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.

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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.

Oh to be a dog (or a cat)…


BeBe looking Sleepy

Bebe looking Sleepy

I was sitting in front of my computer looking at a blank screen and thinking how quiet and peaceful it is. Outside, the weather is cold at a chilly 45 degrees and it is a dull grey and sombre day. It is one of those days when you know that it is not going to rain any amount, a much-needed blessing in my part of Texas, but just dull and cloudy. There is enough cloud that the sun is not peeping through, not even one little bit..

Because it is so quiet, my mind turned to the dogs and cats and what they are doing. Bebe, the oldest of the four dachshunds who is now probably at least 14 or 15 years old and getting a little deaf, is curled up in one of the new doggy baskets that I had recently bought them, fast asleep and seemingly, not a care in the world. Whenever she can, she will sit behind me in my office chair resulting in me having to make do with just half a seat. It’s a little uncomfortable for me but Bebe seems to like it just fine.  Bebe has one goal in life and that is food, any kind of food one of which is raw carrots  She had previously had some medical issues that required taking out her thyroid resulting on her having a special diet. As far as I know, carrots are not on the list of food she is not supposed to eat but again, it would truly be a dog’s life is she couldn’t have any treats. Bebe is a black and tan and the only one different in color. She is supposed to be a miniature of the breed and does have very short legs and the outlines of this small breed of dachshund. Unfortunately, with  her love of food and her medical problems, she does not have the sleek lines of Richie and Ginny.

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail looking for attention

Abigail, the next oldest, is a standard size dachshund weighing about twenty pounds and is the bully of the group. Not that she attacks or bites the other dogs but rather that she uses her size to push her way in and them out-of-the-way especially when we are all on the couch in the evening watching television. Well, maybe I am the one watching television and they are all asleep! She also likes to eat and can devour food at an amazing rate and is usually finished before the others have hardly started their food but she never tries to steal theirs away from them. She too likes carrots but I am not sure if she truly likes them or just does not want any of the other dogs to get them. She is sleeping on the living room couch which she calls her domain.

Ginny the new girl

Richie looking alert

Richie is the only male and is pretty laid back unless he feels that one of the others needs a lesson. Only then does he assert himself and puts them back in their place in the pecking order. He spends his days out in the yard searching for the rats and mice that are there. He is pretty good at catching them and generally either buries them or eats them. He does not just hunt rodents, he goes after the squirrels of which there are quite a few, especially when they come down to steal the birdseed out of the feeders or to get water. He loves to chase the buzzards even though they are circling and wheeling up in the sky. He madly dashes from one end of the garden to the other when one of them flies over. I saw a small feral kitten the other day in front of the house and being a good Samaritan put some food out for it. That was a mistake as the kitten found its way into the back yard and ran into Richie who promptly killed it and half buried it. He has this thing against cats and even though there are two in the house, I always have to put them in a separate room away from the dogs when I go out. He has managed to have a go at both of them resulting in one losing her tail and the other developing diabetes,. Not sure if that was a direct result or just discovered when he had to go to the vets to get sewn up. There was a previous third cat that didn’t make it through the night after Richie’s close attentions. He is a sweet little dog except as far as other animals are concerned although he makes no moves at the cats when I am home and even shows signs of affection for them. Probably knows he will get the crap beaten out of him if he so much as tries. Right now, because it is cold out, he is sleeping on the couch that is in the bedroom that he has taken over as his own personal spot.

Ginny looking for trouble

Ginny looking for trouble

Lastly, there is the latest of the bunch, a small breed little girl named Ginny who weighs a little over twelve pounds. She is without a doubt the funniest of them all, always in a hurry tearing around wherever she goes. Always at top speed. She has this thing for cat food and whenever I have to go into the office which is now the cats room, she tears in ahead of me and does her little prancing dance just to get the cat food. She is really sweet and affectionate and a great bed warmer as she sleeps under the covers against my back. All of them are rescue dogs coming from various and different circumstances. At the present moment, Ginny is practicing her imitation of a hot water bottle and is snuggled under the covers in the bed. With the exception of Bebe, all of the others are the regular orange brown color of the typical smooth coated dachshunds.

All four of these dogs are employed by the Dachshund Watchdog Service Company that is supposed to patrol the yard and keep the Heron away from eating the fish. Unfortunately, they have recently been quite literally sleeping on the job resulting in the heron having some success in the goldfish pond.I have told them that this is the last chance they will have to do the job right and unless they shape up, I will have to get another watchdog service and have them replaced.I am waiting to see the results of this discussion…

The two cats, the tail less one named Ellie and the diabetic one, named Brown Cat (he is a Siamese), are sleeping in their usual spots, Ellie on the bed keeping Ginny company from a distance and Brown Cat in one of the closets. I envy them sometimes, two squares a day and all of the sleep they want in a nice warm house. What could be better (as long as they are not alone with Richie).

Brown Cat

Brown Cat

As I mentioned previously, we all sit on the couch in the evenings and generally Brown Cat will make his way up there as well. So if you can picture Richie to my right, Ginny on my lap, Bebe next to me on the left, Abigail next to Bebe and finally Brown Cat either between them or on the end. If I get up to get something, they open ranks and spread out and I have a devil of a time regaining my original spot. In the evenings when we all retire for the night, they all join me in the King sized bed with Abigail and Ginny always under the covers, Bebe on the top but usually covered by her own little blankie and Richie on his couch until he gets cold then he climbs under the covers with the rest of us. The two cats position themselves wherever they can find a spot and sometimes I will wake up to find that Ellie is sleeping next to my face. She seems to be doing this more and more just lately. I guess its her way of showing more affection as she grows old.

Ellie in her favorite place

Ellie in her favorite place.

My dogs and cats are great company for me and can always cheer me up if I happen to be down which is not often. They give me another angle to my life as I am responsible for them and take that very seriously. When I have to make decisions about their quality of life, I generally cry like a baby if I have to put them to sleep and every animal  I have lost has left a void in my heart which I generally fill by getting another rescue. Now though, I am seriously thinking of the future and what may be down the road. I want to outlive all of my pets if that is at all possible and even though I have no control over it, that is my wish. So, in all probability, these are the last pets I will have as we all grow old together. Currently, there are eleven dogs and sundry cats buried in different places in my yard, the end result of thirty years of friendship and love.

BTW, the hundred or so goldfish and Koi that are in the five ponds are not considered pets at least the same as the dogs and cats. They get sick and die with no warning and after all, its hard to get affectionate with a cold-blooded thing with scales that lives in (cold) water….

Me and the Cat


Ellie in her favorite place

Ellie in her favorite place

Early morning for me and the cat
as she sat on the floor just inches from me
as we got ready to face the day
the cat looked at me as if to say
what’s going on to pass the time
I looked at the cat so sublime
all sleepy and purring in quiet content
and said,”Don’t know yet, but we’ll figure it out.
First feed the fish and then check the ponds
feed you and the guys as we always do
breakfast for me and a latte or two
just to get going on this new day
from there who knows, yard work or write
do I want to work or play”.

The cat said in her quiet tone
“I think that you will do it alone
for me first a nap and then more food
and as eating is such a tiring thing
another nap to recover my strength
and that should take care of most of my day.
If you finish early as you sometimes do
I’ll come and sit with you just to be friends
and I’ll let you stroke me at the back of my neck
and I will purr and sing you a song
as you and I get along”.

Brown Cat

Brown Cat

Of course the cat doesn’t really talk to me
but I do to her when together are we
and I’m sure that if she could she would say
“Lets spend time together again today
for I’m just a cat but I am your friend
and in this family I am not alone
and I have to wait for my time
as with the dogs and the other cat I share
any time with you that you can spare”.

We’ve been together about fourteen years
and lots has happened in that time
pets have come and pets have gone
as age or illness has taken their toll
and Ellie is moving slower now
and sleeps more as she grows old
and likes to sit close to me
and lets me know that she is there
as she purrs or talks in her peculiar way
as we share the moments of the day.

Richie


Be-Be on the left, Richie in the middle and their big friend, Danny

I have three dachshunds. Abigail is a couch potato, Be-Be is a wannabee tearaway and Richie is the tearaway.

Be-Be, short for Beatrice is a very small female with little short legs that are hardly conducive to match her personality. She is always out in the yard, poking about in the hopes that she can raise something to chase. With her short legs, the only thing she could catch would be one of the turtles that occasionally get out of the ponds. If she does spot one, she wants to bark it to death always with very little success. As the turtle just withdraws in its shell, Be-Be loses interest and wanders off. No fun chasing something that won’t move…She did get tangled up with a rat early in her wannabee career and the rat fastened onto her neck. Be-Be went tearing around the yard at top speed screaming at the top of her voice. When I finally caught up with her, the rat just fell off and I assume, of a broken neck after Be-Be’s mad dash. A trip to the vet for a shot and she was fine.

Richie on the other hand is a whole new ball game. He is about a mid size dachshund with very powerful legs and is very quick. he can jump onto my lap and even higher if he thinks there is something in it for him. This story is about him and his exploits to date.

Richie came to me almost six years ago from a friend of a friend that could no longer keep him. He was about 4 years old at that time so he is about 9 or 10 now. Having already Abigail and Be-Be, I thought I knew a little about dachshunds. that was, until Richie showed up.

When I picked him up from my friend, he was all over me as though to say, “you are the one I have been waiting for”, at least that is how I interpreted his joyful kisses and excited jumping up and down. Little did I know what secrets lay behind his doggie actions and what hold he would have over me.

As we walked around the my backyard together that first day home, which, I might add, is surrounded by a 6 ft high wooden fence made of 6 inch boards nailed closely together, he heard a mule on the other side of this fence in the wooded area and before I could even move, had dug himself a hole no more than 3 inches big where he squeezed through to the other side. I knew that the mule would kill him if I didn’t move quickly so I struggled to climb the fence and drop to the other side which had the remnants of a barbed wire fence surrounding it, making my movements so much more difficult. I finally broke free, scratched up all to hell and went after Richie who was having a fine old-time trucking around the woods. I didn’t know how well he had been trained but took a chance and called for him and lo and behold, he trotted quietly back to me. That was the first excursion of its kind with Richie saying,”welcome to my world”.  I should have realized there is something wrong with this picture.

The second time a couple of weeks later, he slipped out the side gate as I was closing it when we were working in the yard and immediately made a mad dash towards the main road. This was prior to my knee surgery and I was wearing a leg brace to work in the yard so I ran after him.  We both were running up the middle of the road with traffic behind and in front of me. With one hand as I was trying to get the cars to stop that were coming towards us and with the other, trying to stop those behind us, all of this wearing a brace that did not help my movements very much. Luckily for us, both sets of cars did stop and when I hollered at him, Richie again stopped running and trotted back to me as if to say, “we got our exercise, let’s go home”. We must have looked pretty funny with this little dog going at full speed, tail up, followed by this old man with wildly flailing arms and an enormous knee brace both running at top speed which for me, was not very fast. If Richie had not decided to come back, he could have got clear away as I was no match for him.

By this time, I had gotten a bit smarter and had run an electric fence, powered by a doggie shocker, all around the bottom of the fenced in yard. I think Richie has probably made contact with it a couple of times as he steers clear if it now.

I had been told by the previous owners that Richie liked to chase squirrels and cats. I had three cats at the time and I watched them pretty closely but he never made any move to bother the cats at all so I figured that he was OK with them. Big mistake. I went out one day leaving the cats and dogs all together as per usual. When I returned, the place was a shambles with furniture overturned, blood on the floor and a strong smell of cat urine. I searched around and located two of the cats but could not find the third. I eventually located her under the bed squeezed into a corner. She was a big old fat cat, and between the five dogs, they had managed to tear her up pretty good. I rushed her to the vet but she died overnight from complications. So Richie, as the last dog introduced to the pack that had never had problems with the cats before, was held responsible as at least the initiator of the attacks with the pack instinct the reason why the rest joined in.

I thought that several months later, Richie was over his cat thing and made the mistake of not separating the remaining two cats and locking them up as I had been in the habit of doing. Again, when I came home, there was this same scenario as before and this time between them, they had cornered Ellie, one of the other cats. She was a different target and gave them a good run and was only mildly hurt with her tail still intact. Again, another trip to the vets and this time, the cat came back home with me. I kept her locked up for about a week to get over the trauma but when I let her out of her room, she slipped out the doggie door and away into the night. I thought that was the last I had seen of her but about a week later in the evening, I heard her mewing on the roof and got the ladder out to rescue her. She was as pleased to see me as I to see her. However, she had problems from her injuries and required vet care the next day resulting in her losing her beautiful tail. This time, everything was OK and she remains one of the family pets. What is amazing about all of this is that in the evenings when everyone is fighting (figuratively speaking) for a place on the couch next to me, very often both of the cats and Richie are laying side by side. Go figure. Incidentally, I never go anywhere now without locking the cats in a separate room, a real case of locking the stable door…

There was one other instance of Richie and excitement leading him to attack one of the cats. I heard a knock on the front door which always sets everyone barking. I spent some time talking to the visitor at the door with the dogs still barking up a storm. The next thing I heard was a cat screeching as only cats can do. I tore back inside and Richie again was going after the same cat, Ellie, who by now was tailless from the previous episode and much harder for Richie to catch her. This time, there was no harm done but it is interesting that the excitement of a visitor at the door sparked off Richie’s aversion to cats and his reaction is always violent.

For all of his cat exploits, Richie is still a very loving little dog. He wants and gives affection and it is hard to see him as a cat killer. However, Richie and squirrels are a different story as he will spend hours chasing them from tree to tree. The squirrels for their part, often taunt him by coming down to drink or eat the birdseed with him just a few yards away and it becomes a competition with Richie always willing to give it a try. He actually has done pretty well and in the last couple of years, has caught three squirrels that I know of as I caught him eating two of them and watched him catch the third. Don’t know how he caught the other two but this one came down to ground and Richie caught is before it could get back in the trees.

Richie on a bush

One of Richie’s early exploits was to climb trees. He hasn’t done it in a while and has hopefully outgrown it but he would select a tree that had a curved trunk and then use his claws to grip the bark on his way up. I have a couple of trees that have ground cover climbing up them and he would use that as a means to get up the tree. He has been as high as twelve or so feet off the ground and always worried me that he would fall and get hurt. I have pictures of him up trees, up bushes and even on a load on the trailer.

Richie also gets very excited when the buzzards fly over head. He knows he can’t reach them but tears around all over the yard as they fly their slow circles on the wind currents. It’s real funny to watch him. He went absolutely nuts when the buzzards came in to clean up the last big Koi that died a month or so ago. They would sit in the trees above him as he tore around the yard barking at the top of his voice. He didn’t seem to bother them one little bit. And they ate all of the Koi.

During the fish spawning season, the male Koi chase the females round and round the pond with several of them chasing the one female. I am not quite sure why they do this but I think the action of the chase does something to the female to make her release her eggs which of course the males will fertilize. One day as I was sitting outside just enjoying the sun, I heard the Koi splashing and racing around but could not actually see the ponds from where I was seated. I never gave it much thought until it occurred to me that Richie was acting awful quiet. That was enough to get me looking for him and I found him at the bottom of the garden. Apparently, one of the female Koi, had jumped completely out of the pond in an effort to avoid the male’s attentions. That was the splash that I had heard but as I didn’t react, Richie, not one to miss a golden opportunity of a fresh fish meal, managed to pick up this Koi which had to weigh at least 10 lbs , carry it to the bottom of the yard and start gnawing on it. The fact that the fish was still alive didn’t bother Richie one little bit and he was very upset when I took it away and threw it over the fence where all the dead fish end up.

All of these previous tales pale in the light of the last two episodes, at least up to now, in Richie’s life. One of Richie’s favorite hangouts is under the workshop. I guess he can smell the mice and rats and whatever else interesting things that come along. One day, he was barking up a storm which he does if he gets excited and he wouldn’t stop so I went to see what he had gotten into this time. With him, you never know.

The only way I can see under this shed is with a flashlight and to literally lay down to shine it in. I did this and couldn’t make out very much so I decided to dig down through the leaf pile on the side of the shed so that I could get closer to the action. I was alert enough just in case it was a cornered rat or something like but I was not prepared when all of a sudden, a large snake stuck his head out and tried to bite my shovel. That did it for me as regards digging so I went back to my first position and focused more in the area of the excitement. It was very interesting and scary to watch first Richie and then the snake trying to attack each other. As one would dart forward, the other would jump back. As I still couldn’t see much of the snake except that he had a big body and was marked and coiled like a rattlesnake so had no idea if it was dangerous, I eventually managed to get Richie to come to me where we both went indoors and the slot was put in place to keep him and the other animals indoors for the night.

The next day, as I was standing on the deck and looking over at the big pond, I could see something white in the skimmer opening. My first thought was damn, another fish has died, as the current takes them back to the box so I went to check. Imagine my surprise when I took the cover off and all I could see was this bloody great snake who had decided that the box was a good place to hang out. I could see the head and could see that it was just a tree snake or rat snake and was not venomous so some of my panic disappeared. As I poked around, the snake emerged from the box and swam over to the other side of the pond. It was big and probably at least six feet or so long and the body was at least 4-5 inches in girth. That was the last I saw of it. I could have used its help clearing the rats out from under the shed and would gladly have exchanged free food and lodging for it to stay a few days but I guess that noisy Richie eventually drove it away.

The final episode was nearly just that. It was 3:00 am in the morning and I heard Richie outside and kicking up a fuss. He often went out at night as did the other dogs if they heard any strange noises. Richie must have picked up on something as he was the only one out so I put on some clothes, grabbed my trusty flashlight and went out to check it out. This time, Richie was under the hot tub deck which is at least two feet off the ground and much easier to see under. When I shone the light under the deck, all I could see were this big round yellow eyes reflected by the light. Closer inspection revealed that those eyes belonged to a big old racoon that Richie had cornered and as before with the snake, they were both going at each other in an effort to get in a telling bite. This was a whole different story as for all of his bravery, Richie was no real match for the teeth and claws of a big coon. So, I went back up to the deck and grabbed the hose pipe and squirted it in the general direction of both animals. I couldn’t see what was happening as I could no longer see under the deck from where I was but all of a sudden, Richie stopped barking.

The silence was absolutely deafening as I couldn’t see any sign of Rich as I searched around and was beginning to expect the worst when all of a sudden, Richie came wobbling out from under the main deck with his head all covered in blood. I grabbed him and we went inside. I cleaned him up and all he had was this one little tiny scratch that had either bled a lot or he had managed to take a chunk out of the coon. Either way, Richie was a very subdued little puppy having been spanked by a much larger coon. I think the coon had slapped him across the nose enough to knock Rich out for a bit, hence the silence and before he slowly crawled out from under the deck.

We both went back to bed for what remained of that night and the next day, he was back to his normal jolly little self.

To say that living with Richie is not an experience, would be an understatement. I am never quite sure what he is going to get into next. I find myself wondering where he is or what is he up to if I haven’t seen him in a while. If I have been away, I am always checking to see him and hoping that he will greet me at the door as the others do so I don’t have to go out looking for him. His personality registers more with me than all the rest of the dogs, I love them all and will do anything for them but in his case, he has made that extra special.

Quite the little man.