Farewell Ellie…


Animal Cairn

The cairn under which at least eight of my pets are buried

My beautiful Ellie who I recently wrote about, has joined Brown Cat in that special place that all cats go to when they pass on from this earthly life.

She did not handle the passing of Brown Cat very well and it was obvious that even though they were not close, she did miss him if only for the companionship of another cat in the house. She totally changed her lifestyle from being an indoor cat sleeping on the bed all day to spending hours outdoors in any of the special places that she found to sleep, on the deck, under the deck, in between the trees and under the shed. If I didn’t bring her in at night, she would probably have spent all of her time outside not even coming in to eat. Even after eating, she immediately wanted back outside again although I wouldn’t let her out until the morning choosing instead to listen to her plaintive meowing in protest.

We had a rainy day and true to form, she again slipped out using the doggy door. I looked for her as the rain pelted down but could not find her anywhere. Eventually, around 12:30 that night, I located her under the deck totally soaked and very dirty and managed to get her indoors where I gave her a bath, sort of. Have you vere tried bathing a cat? I do not recommend it as they have teeth and claws and put them to very good use. I eventually got a lot of the dirt off her and dried her and put her in her room.

The next day, when I let her out, she immediately headed for the doggy door but only made it halfway and collapsed on the floor. I could see she was in trouble so I put her in a carry crate and off we went to the vets (again). Although I love my vets dearly having been with them for the 32 years I have lived in this house, they have seen far too much of me these past couple of years.

I left Ellie with them and waited for the call confirming what I already knew the news would be. True to form, Dr Donop, called and we talked about Ellie. Turns out that she had an open wound on her leg that I had not noticed before even when I bathed her.  With her outdoor life, the flies had gotten into it and they had made it much worse with their eggs and maggots and Dr Donop could not find any way to sew up the wound in order to treat it. We discussed the alternatives of which there were very few options and in the end,  based on his recommendations, I told him to go ahead and put Ellie to sleep and out of her suffering. It was something I was prepared for this time, not like Richie. I told him I would be back later that day to pick her up.

I walked out to the garden carrying my spade and shovel and headed for that special place next to the big pond where so many of my pets are buried. Normally, the digging is hard but as we had recently a lot of rain, it was somewhat easier than normal. Being Texas Hill Country, the limestone is usually only a foot or so below the surface which limits the depth of the hole and I make up for it but covering everything up with rocks.

I buried Ellie next to Brown Cat and Richie, the most recent of the many dogs and cats that lay in this special place. I stood for a while and said my goodbyes to Ellie as I have to all of the pets buried here. She was the last of the many cats that I have had the pleasure of living with over these many years both here and in my previous home out in the country as I do not plan on getting any more. My little menagerie has dropped radically in size from an all time high of eight dogs and three cats to two very small and very noisy dogs. What they lack in size, they truly make up for with their noisy barking at anything that moves out in the yard, perceived or real. Ginny is about eight and Pete around four so they should be around for awhile, hopefully, the rest of my lifetime.

There are stone statues of dogs and cats on the cairn.

In retrospect, this has been a bad couple of years as far as pets go in the Allcorn Residence. Four of the last six dogs and cats that I have taken to the vets have all come home in cardboard boxes and then there was Abigail who drowned in the septic tank. In fairness, with the exception of Richie and Abigail, all of the others were getting on in years and their time had come. Ellie was at least 18 years old and she had a good life.

I will miss her as I do all of the ones that have gone to that animal heaven up in the sky. They all asked for very little and in return, gave me their unconditional love. A man could not ask for anything better than that.

Rest in Peace Ellie. You will be missed.

Written 10/8/2017

 

Ellie, the lonely life of an older cat.


Ellie on the printerWith the recent death of Brown Cat, Ellie is the one remaining cat left in this household. Over the years, there have been many different cats, some of the indoor variety and others that spent most of their time outdoors. In terms of lifespan, the outdoor cats didn’t do so well either succumbing to the traffic on the busy road that runs alongside of my property or ending up as food for the Coyotes.

Cats are notoriously difficult to control especially if you have dogs and a doggy door. They are intelligent and learn how to make use of such a gadget very quickly. Consequently, they tend to roam following their natural habits of stalking and hunting. Luckily, as they get much older, they limit this outside practice to sunning on the deck and when that gets too hot, back indoors in the air conditioning.

I think that Ellie misses Brown Cats company at least in the sense that they were generally in each others proximity.  They were never buddies and in reality, could not stand to be too close to one another but they slept in the same room and in their younger lives, both would join me and the dogs on the big king sized bed at night. Never once did I ever see the two of them act affectionately towards each other. Come to that, both cats were very stand offish towards the dogs. Can’t say that I blame them as Richie was not to be trusted.

Brown Cat

Occasionally, Ellie will climb up on the bed using the steps that I built for that purpose but she is not very comfortable being too close to the dogs anymore.  As soon as I turn off the light, she scrambles down off the bed to go to her room to sleep. It’s not that she is afraid of the dogs as the incident with Richie, when he went after her was several years ago and long gone from her memory. Pete, the relatively new Chihuahua is aggressive towards her but only in an excited way and she can probably do without that sort of attention. No, I think that she is lonely as she tries to spend a lot more time closer to me than before and I go out of my way to always make a fuss of her.

I have to be very careful as I stroke her as she seems very sensitive around her back area and almost goes into convulsions as she squirms around trying to lick her back after one of these incidents. Kinda dangerous to anyone close to her when she does that as her claws are flashing around with no control.

Ellie, as best as we can put together is almost 19 years old, 17 of which she has spent with me. A lot of dogs have come and gone in that  time and the only constant in her life was Brown Cat. Now he is gone and that leaves a void for her. Another cat, even an older one is not the answer as who knows how two cats new to each other, even older ones, would get along.

No, I just got to spend as much time with her as I can to help her through this rough patch and hope that she doesn’t die of a broken heart.  Like me, she is slow moving and even slower getting up. Who knows for how long considering her age although she does not show any sign of passing on, yet.

What is the saying, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst”.

Richie and the Snake


Yesterday, my little Dachshund Richie, the same one that is always sniffing around, was struck by a venomous snake that was under the deck that is in front of the workshop. I was working on something no more than 3 feet from where it happened and counted myself lucky that it was the dog and not me that was struck. I was not able to identify the snake as I didn’t get to see it being more concerned with Richie but there is definitely an uptick in them in my yard this summer. I have lived in this house for 32 years and this is the first time that I have encountered a poisonous snake inside of the yard.

I have several garter snakes that live in and around the ponds and yesterday while I was looking for whatever struck Richie, I found a black Whipsnake about 2 feet long that had just eaten something as its body was pretty distended. You can’t be too careful especially around the ponds or in dark shady places like under sheds. It seems that this hot, dry summer has really got them moving presumably to find water.

I rushed Richie to the vets but he was already in shock and was out of it by the time I got there. My vet is only 10 minutes from my house and when I walked in, they went into action like a well oiled team and had saline and other solutions including anti-venom pumping into his little body in no time flat. I stayed back out of the way and watched and hoped against hope that Richie would make it. They kept him overnight which I always dread as that is when animals seem to die after surgery. At least, that has been my experience. If they get through that first night, they have a chance.

True to his word, my vet called me around 9:00 pm that evening to give me a report. He had come back in especially to check on the dog and told me he would call me in the morning. After a restless night, I was up very early, (for me) waiting for the call back from the Vet. He had promised me that it would 8:00 am when he called but as I waited and waited all the while my thoughts thinking the worst. He finally called about 8:45 am with the good news that Richie was doing as well as could be expected and was alert although his throat and face were very swollen. But he was alive and my Vet thought that barring a sudden relapse, always possible with snake bites, he might pull through.

I told him I would be along to see Richie later in the day and stopped by in the afternoon. I spent some time with Richie but he was pretty drugged up and really didn’t recognize me. I left and it wasn’t 45 minutes later that I got a call from the Vet to say that Richie had passed away. I was in the car at the time and had to pull over as I just couldn’t stop crying. I had been hoping like hell that the little guy would make it but it was not to be. The Vet suggested that maybe Richie had been hanging on in the hope of seeing me before he passed on but that is probably wishful thinking.

I picked Richie up, this time in a box and brought him home. I took him out and let Ginnie and Pete sniff him over and I hope that this will explain to them Richie’s absence from their little pack. After all, he was the pack leader.

I put him back in the box and took him out to where all of the rest of the animals are buried alongside the Big Pond. The ground was hard and the sweat poured off of me but it helped me to work out some of my grief as I really loved that little dog and I’m pretty sure he loved me.

Now we are down to Ginnie the female miniature Dachshund, who does not really get on with Pete the overweight and bossy Chihuahua and Ellie who has her own problems trying to recover from the loss of Brown Cat. The one saving grace out of losing Richie is that I will no longer have to shut the cat up in a separate room every time I go out for fear that Richie would repeat his attack on her as he did many years ago.

Will I try to find another Richie? He was definitely one of a kind so probably not. I will see how it works out with the other two and then go from there.
RiCHie
Rest in Peace Richie. You were my Best Friend and very much loved. You will be missed.
One final note. It is ironic that of all the things that I revere the most, Mother Nature, she is responsible for Richie’s death. It was one of her creations that killed him. Payback for what he had done to other snakes? Only she knows…

Farewell Brown Cat


Brown CatAs you can tell from the title, Brown Cat, my Siamese cat has left our little clan for that big cat heaven up in the sky. He was very much a fixture in this house for the past 15 plus years maybe more having joined us from a friend who was going through a marriage breakup.

Other cats have come and gone, a couple to the busy road outside of the yard, a couple to coyotes and one to the attentions of Richie, one of my Dachshunds. One cat hung in there and is still with us and again, a rescue from another friend who moved to Ireland. Her name is Ellie and she is at least 17 years old.  She too had to put up with Richie’s attentions and  eventually lost her tail after having gone missing for a week only to make her way back home. Not sure how she will handle being the only cat in the house but she and Brown Cat never really got along. They just tolerated each other but even so, were company.

Brown Cat came running out of the house one day and crashed into one of the potted plants that was standing on the deck. Turns out that he was having a diabetic seizure and the Vet confirmed that he was now a diabetic cat. That started him on a two shot a day treatment of insulin which we faithfully kept up for at least 4 years, maybe longer. I know it felt like a lifetime as I was pretty much chained to his timetable, a shot in the morning around 7:00 am and another in the evening, 12 hours later. It also meant having to keep an eye on his food input and convincing him that he needed to eat. Towards the end, he lost a lot of weight.

This morning after protesting loudly in his extremely loud voice until I fed him…again, he suddenly fell over. I put him back on his feet but he could no longer stand and we both knew that it was time to make that last trip to the Vets. I packed him into his carry case and along with all of his diabetic equipment, we trundled off to the Vets which is only a couple of miles from my house. As I have been using them to take care of my animals for over these past 30 years, I felt comfortable in leaving Brown Cat with them as by now, he was barely breathing as he lay in the box. I made my way back home to dig yet another grave for yet another pet. I went back later to pick up the box that was to be his new forever home and brought him home to rest.

He is buried in an area alongside one of the big ponds that has several dogs and a couple of cats and is piled high with rocks as a sort of cairn. It has some statues of dogs to make everyone aware that the area is off limits for any sort of digging.

On the bright side, I no longer have to give Brown Cat insulin shots twice a day or put him through the discomfort of taking a reading of his blood count. Neither do I have to buy anymore insulin  or diabetic supplies which are not cheap. In his later years, Brown Cat was not the most fastidious of cats when it came to using the litter box and as for covering anything up, forget it which means that I will no longer have to clean up behind him or change out the newspapers that he used in lieu of a litter box even though they were set up side by side. So, there are both good and bad to him passing.

Ellie on the printer

Now, Ellie is the only cat that we have left in our little family. She will also be the last one as I do not intend to get anymore. The two Dachshunds and the fat little Chihuahua are the only dogs left and the big gamble now is who will outlive who and that includes me.

Rest in Peace, Brown Cat.

A Walk at Pedernales Falls 12-17-2016


dsc_4740My walks now are governed by the temperature/sun forecast although yesterday was a bit of an exception for this time of the year. The forecast was for temperatures to be in the middle 70’s with a sunny day with a cold front moving in directly behind it very late in the evening.

Those sort of days are not to be turned down and I made plans to drive to Pedernales Falls and take a short and easy walk. First I called my friend who unfortunately had a prior engagement so I made plans to walk on my own. Nothing unusual about that as most of my walks are alone.

Ever since spotting the Bald Eagle a while back and rescuing a little dog on another occasion, every time that I drive to Pedernales Falls I am very wary of what is going on around me just in case I might get another glance at that eagle. No such luck this time but here’s hoping.

I arrived at Pedernales and this time, there were only a couple of cars in front of me. Not like the last time when there were at least 30 of them. I paid my $3.00 and told them I was taking a short walk. I planned to park in the Horse Corral and then take a walk to the dsc_4733Duck Pond and from there to head to the Fenceline trail, back onto the South Loop and then back to the starting point. I passed one other couple who were on their way back as I walked around the pond. There was very little in the way of wildlife on the pond or anywhere else with the exception of what appeared to be a Greater Yellowlegs that was hunting in the low water, which incidentally has created two separate ponds. As I continued walking around the ponds, a guy on a trail bike caught up with me and inquired if I was lost. I told him my plans to continue to the Fenceline trail which over its full length is almost 4 miles although I was only going to walk a part of that. He took off following the North Trail.

The walk was uneventful as I strode the Fenceline trail which is very easy walking. I turned off onto a very wide trail that was not signposted but I was hoping that it would bring me back to the South Trail which eventually it did. From there, it was a straight shot back to the Horse Corral where I met two ladies who were grooming their horses having completed their ride and they let me take their picture.dsc_4752lp1

I was parked on the opposite side of the Corral from them so I wandered over to my car and changed out of my wet clothes as the temperature had been hot enough for me to sweat. Altogether I covered 4 miles of very easy walking and was extremely glad that I made the effort to get out. The drive home was uneventful as I listened to a Stephen King story on Audiophone. No Bald Eagles and no little lost dogs.

Enjoy the video.

Pedernales Falls Duckpond Walk 12-17-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Todays Thoughts


dsc_4746I spent some time just looking out of the window
thinking mostly about the fact that I spent all day
in front of my computer fussing with a blog page
on the other website I maintain
for the Austin Pond Society.

I could not get the page to do what I wanted it to do
and I was getting frustrated
luckily, I am blessed with infinite patience
when it comes to working on a computer
so much different than when it comes to people
who can irritate me no end.

Not all people of course but just a few
those that support Trump for instance
or those whose ideas are really poor
and yet they will not listen
because they know it all and cannot be told.

I patted my dog on the head and talked to him
it was as though he knew that things were not going well
and he looked at me with his big brown eyes
as though to say, don’t worry
I am here for you.

One of the other dogs came over looking for attention
he licked my hand to tell me that everything is OK
I made a fuss of both of them and felt much better
all of my frustrations just disappearing
with their calming effect.

I had plans to do some work outside
but the computer problem took all of my time
and it was late before I had it solved
but I walked around the yard looking at the ponds
and figured that I could do the yard work tomorrow.

That is the beauty of being retired
there is no urgency to perform any task
as long as the task does not have a deadline
I can do it today or tomorrow
either day is just fine.

Most deadlines are self imposed
so even they can become flexible
depending on the time of day
and the urgency of the task
and the mood I am in.

Now that I have solved the computer problem
at least for this time around
I can turn my attention to the simpler things in my life
Like feeding the dogs and the cats
and then feeding myself.

Sometimes the most mundane of actions give the most pleasure.

 

 

 

An Addition to the Family


Today was a big day in the Allcorn Residence as we added a new member to our little tribe. The house has been very quiet with both Abigail and then BeBe passing on. I’m so used to seeing a dog anywhere I look and the two remaining ones tend to pretty much do their own thing.

Richie, the male, tends to spend most of his time outside either trucking around to see what trouble he can get into or sleeping on the outdoor patio couch. Actually, he also keeps me active for if he is away for any length of time, I have to go out and check that he is not digging a hole to get under the fence. So far, he hasn’t but that doesn’t stop me from worrying. Ginnie spends most of her time under the covers on my bed. In between, she will go out and bark at the make belief rats under the deck. Actually, they are not make belief as they do come out in the evening to eat the bird seed that has fallen. Maybe, Pete will get her moving a bit more.

So I figured that maybe, the introduction of Pete, a three year old rescue Chihuahua, might add a little spice to the other two’s lives and give them an additional interest and another buddy to play with. I belong to a Neighborhood Newsletter and Pete’s picture appeared looking for a new home. His owner is going into a nursing home and she could no longer take care of him. She has already fostered him out to a couple of her friends and they were the ones looking for a forever home for the little dog.

I contacted them and we arranged to meet at PetsMart so that I could meet Pete and then bring him home for a sleepover just to see how well he gets along with the other two and also the two cats that I have.

So far, after the initial growling  and smelling of each other’s butts and the two males trying to outdo each other marking the territory, things are beginning to settle down. Pete is the jumpy one ready to show his teeth at either of the other two who seem ready to accept him into the pack. I guess two dogs is a pack or at least the beginning of one.

I hope things work out as he is a nice little dog. I do have a take back arrangement just in case he doesn’t fit in but we will have to wait and see.

More to come on this story.