Idiot cat

We have two cats. We got them the same day, but one is about nine months older than the other. The one we got as a very small kitten, Loki, is Xander’s cat. He picked her up upside down, held her in weird positions, and she grew up with my last dog, Ace, a Rottweiler. She thinks she’s a dog. There is a very distinct difference between her tail lashing when she is upset and her tail wagging when she’s happy.

Just think about that for a minute. Have you ever seen a cat wagging its tail?

Loki deals with Nyx pretty well. She messes with her on a regular basis. Loki will lie down on her side on a chair and make mewping noises until Nyx comes over to investigate. Nyx’s head is about the size of the cat. Nyx nudges Loki. Loki smacks Nyx across the face with no claws. Nyx thinks about wandering off, and Loki calls her back. This continues until Nyx nudges a little too hard, at which point jut the tips of Loki’s claws come out and Nyx backs off. Loki is definitely in charge.

Eris is my cat. When we got her she had already been through three homes. One, her original foster home, was a good home. The next place adopted her and decided that she had too much energy for their older cat. I’m not sure what they expected, since they got a kitten, but people are sometimes odd. Instead of taking her back and saying it was not a good match, they gave her a room all to herself. Maybe they thought they were being nice. I don’t know. In any case, shutting a kitten up in a room is a bad idea. She decided to dig out under the door. The floor was carpeted, and she started ripping it up. Unfortunately, the people who had her had sprayed that carpet for ants. Eris got very sick and eventually went back to the first home.

When she was about four months old, she got an infection and the vet had to remove one of her eyes. As you might imagine, this did not endear her to potential adopters.

The third home was not awful, but Eris was still not very good at navigating with only one eye. She fell off of a bookcase and hit a table and the socket bled, so the owners freaked out and sent her, once again, to the foster home.

Xander and I were looking for cats who were at least part Russian Blue. He really likes the breed and I didn’t have much opinion. Eris’ mother was a full Russian Blue, and I asked if we could adopt her, but by the time I came across her she had been adopted. The foster home asked if we might be interested in her daughter and sent pictures. I thought she was beautiful, and we adopted her.

Eris is gorgeous. Sleek, small, and delicate, at least when she’s not being clumsy. She is not, however, the brightest cat I have ever met. She gets stuck in cupboards, hasn’t figured out how to boss the dog around, and, if she’s really irritated, she pees on things. Apparently she doesn’t like papasan chairs. No idea why, but she made that quite clear. Pungently. She also pees on the dog’s bed, given the chance.

Nyx periodically takes cushions off of the couch. We put planks on the cushions if she’s doing it too often, since a while ago she pulled off the cushions and dug a small hole in the inside of the couch. A few days ago she pulled a cushion off just as I was getting ready to leave. I put it back on, put the planks over the cushions, and headed out. A few hours later, Xander mentioned that my cat was an idiot. In the time that it took me to get the cushion and put it back on the couch, my cat dove through the hole and stayed there until Xander sat down. He heard her meowing (we call her the crabby cat because she had some damage to her vocal cords, too, so her voice is scratchy) and, after opening every cupboard in the house (she gets stuck in those pretty often, too), he finally found her under the couch. He had to widen the hole in the couch for her to get out again because she couldn’t figure it out.

The combination of a dog who is still a little bit of a puppy, a cat who is rather short on brains, and another cat who seems to take perverse joy in bothering the other two (about five minutes after Loki met Eris she started jumping her from her blind side), we are never short of entertainment or irritation, depending on our moods that day.

My cat is not very smart, but she is a sweet cat and, despite being terrified of Nyx, she comes and sleeps on my lap. I can live with that.

Neurotic dog

We have a dog named Nyx. She’s a black dog with some white, thus the name. She’s a Great Dane, but rather small – she’s about 33 inches at the shoulder and she’s only 120 pounds.

Apparently she’s also just the tiniest bit neurotic. Or possibly just picky. I don’t know.

She has been eating raw chicken as her primary food source for about a year and a half. While she has been different from every other dog I’ve ever owned in that she will not eat absolutely everything that is set down in front of her, she’s eaten fairly well. I chop up a chicken, she eats as much as she wants, and then she makes noises until we let her out of her crate. She likes her crate, but not if there are people around. We are much more interesting. I am not used to any food being left behind by a dog (there’s a reason my last dog, and every other dog I’ve owned, was nicknamed Hoover at one point or another), so that took some adjustment for me.

About a week ago, after breakfast, she decided to stop eating. I was away for the weekend, she decided that she didn’t want to eat what Xander fed her, and she went on a hunger strike. This is not a huge deal, as she’s done this before for a day or two if she’s very stressed out. It doesn’t happen often. She didn’t eat Sunday. She didn’t eat Monday. She didn’t eat on Tuesday, and I was beginning to get rather worried. Her energy level was fine, she didn’t object to me poking around in her mouth, and nothing else seemed to be a problem. Wednesday she ate a little. I’m pretty sure she was just so starved she couldn’t hold off anymore. We went to the vet on Thursday.

The vet said she was the most well-adjusted, sweet Dane she had ever met. There were no signs of sickness of any sort – temperature was fine, she ate dog cookies like there was no tomorrow, and she got bored, curled up on the floor, and started snoozing. Did I mention that our dog is a couch potato? She takes after me – stress or boredom requires a nap in response.

The vet asked about the food Nyx was eating, made it very clear that she didn’t quite understand a raw diet, and suggested that maybe the dog was bored with her food.

We spoil Nyx rotten. I mean, she’s a reasonably well-trained dog – there’s no way I would have a 120 pound big black dog who was not well trained. She’s been trained using a clicker and lots of treats, though, which means she’ll do almost anything if one of her people has a treat for her. She goes to doggie day care to make sure she gets enough exercise while we are both working. She gets lots of attention and has a twin mattress she sleeps on next to our bed. She eats really good food.

Now she’s bored?

With an alternative of blood tests and stool samples, I took her to a little pet food store in Reno, Healthy Tails. They have always been good to us and given useful advice, and they know Nyx. They brought out samples of food for her to try.

Our dog, who has a beautiful coat and looks absolutely healthy, likes kibble. Not just any kibble, though. Some samples she picked up out of the offering hand, turned her head, and dropped on the floor. Her head is a fair ways up, so when she drops kibble, it scatters. A couple of kinds of food, though, she got extremely excited about. She sat without me having to ask, her ears perked up, and her tail started wagging. That was before she even got a taste of the food.

I need to be sure our dog stays healthy. I bought her kibble and a few other things to add in so the transition would be easier.

That night, she ate a little chicken and then ate everything I would give her of the other foods. She was up four hours later with a very upset stomach. I was not amused.

The next morning, when I put out the chicken, she refused to get off of the couch. (Yes, spoiled dog. I know.) I insisted. She moved. She didn’t, however, walk towards her crate. She flopped down on the floor on front of me. When I nudged her with my foot, she rolled onto her back and put her legs in the air.

Not only is she apparently good at passive resistance, she’s a clown, too. I’m so lucky.

I didn’t feed her that morning, considering the upset tummy the night before and my deep dislike of cleaning out crates when sickness has been involved. She did not seem to mind, although she did nose at the kibble bag a couple of times until I asked her to leave it. She sighed, ambled away, and settled in her crate with her peanut-butter-and-treats-stuffed Kong.

I fed her that night, and she ate everything that was offered and looked for more.

The only question now is how long she’ll like this food. I got two big bags of it, so hopefully she’ll eat it for at least that long.

Just a dog

I was driving a couple of kids around early this afternoon when we saw a pretty little (I have a Great Dane – this “little” dog was probably about 40 pounds) brindle dog running along a street. It wasn’t a busy street, so I wasn’t too worried, but we stopped and got him to go wander uphill, away from the road. I didn’t want to pick him up with someone else’s kids in the car, and he seemed disinclined to get too close, anyway.

Three hours later, coming down the same hill, with no kids in the car, I saw the dog again. I opened the door and called him and he hopped in and promptly fell asleep in the backseat. He seemed comfortable with people, his nails were trimmed, and he did not seem underfed or overweight. He looked like someone’s dog out for an excursion. He didn’t have a collar on, so I couldn’t call his owners. When I took him to animal control and put a leash on him, he was quite happy to walk with me and didn’t pull at all. He will be checked for a microchip and hopefully reunited with his family.

I’m a sucker for stray dogs. I worry about them getting hit, and I think about how devastated I would be if my dog got hit. I had a dog who escaped in the snow one day and wasn’t found for two days because he got hit, either by a car or a motorcycle, and hid under someone’s deck. I was incredibly relieved when someone called the number on his collar, and I don’t want anyone to have to go through that. I also generally like dogs and can read their body language fairly well, so I can tell if a dog will be ok for me to pick up or if I should call it in instead.

I grew up with rescue dogs. There are so many animals out there who need homes that it is really hard for me to buy a dog. When I have time, I train dogs at shelters so they can find a new family more easily. It’s important to me. I’m not completely sure why. I think it has something to do with the fact that they have no other recourse outside of trusting people to take care of them. They can’t just hitch a ride to the next city, find a job, and get by. They are dependent on us for survival in this world we have created and for which we bred them. Great Danes aren’t snow dogs, but our dog has a good life even in the winter. We are her family and we take care of her. Part of the reason her training is so important to me is so she can be around many different people without feeling anxious, and so people can come to her without feeling afraid. She’s a big black dog, and people have walked across the street to avoid getting near her.

If you have a dog, if you ever get a dog, please make sure it always has a collar, and make sure it has a microchip. It’s important. Vets will check for a microchip when someone brings in a new pet, so if your dog gets picked up by someone else, you may get it back from a vet who was paying attention. If you are a dog person and see a stray dog, call it in. It may be lost or afraid, and you might save its life by calling animal control or, if you are comfortable, picking it up and taking it in yourself.

I hope the sweet little brindle dog finds his way home or finds a new home. He was clearly well loved at some point, and he deserves a family.