Wembley Wednesday - Love.

>> Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Seven months later. The time of year where we discovered Wembley's cancer is getting closer. Soon, it will be one year since diagnosis. One year since her last Christmas. One year since losing her. I hate all of these things and often wonder if this will ever stop hurting.

Most of the time, I try not to think about her sickness, but instead how much fun we had together. Alan and I had Wembley during several very exciting points in our lives: courtship, getting Reagan, engagement, getting married, and our first home together (the apartment with the terrible cupboards). I especially miss the way she slept on my pillow every night. In these more uplifting thoughts, I can't help but feel baffled about how *lucky* we are to have had such a perfect dog. She was the easiest puppy, well-behaved, kind, beautiful, and full of snuggles day after day. Everyone who met Wembley was in awe of her, giving her a doggie celebrity status that she adored. Wembley was the princess. My princess.

Since she has been gone, several odd things have happened on a regular basis. Any time we shower one of the other dogs with praise, Wembley seems to do something to make sure that we are always thinking about her. One day with Molly we were driving to PetSmart, and I made some kind of remark-I can't remember what it was now, but after I stated it, I told Molly, "Because of this, I'm going to see a senior golden that makes me cry." Sure enough, about thirty minutes later, we saw a senior golden at the store. If Alan makes a remark about Reagan being the best retriever, a golden retriever commercial will pop up on TV shortly after. These aren't one time occasions, either. They are oddly consistent with our actions, and we are both convinced it is Wembley trying to make us feel bad for praising anything but her. She was very much like that, because everyone told her how perfect she was all the time.

And she will always be my perfect angel and the love of my life.


Getting Bigger and Learning

>> Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rhoda is growing every day. She has already doubled in size and weighs a little over two pounds now, compared to the one pound she weighed during her first vet visit a few weeks ago. It's such a special time in her life, and we are trying to enjoy it before she is all grown up.

Piper is showing Rhoda how to be a cat. She is teaching Rhoda how to hunt and how to take down "big game" (the dogs). Yesterday, when Alan was leading the dogs outside, Piper escorted Rhoda out of the way and guarded her from getting trampled by them.

Besides Piper having a new buddy, she and Aurora are getting along much better with Rhoda in the mix. Aurora is warming up to Rhoda now, and they will play together occasionally, but on a whole, the cats are getting along swimmingly. Rhoda seems to be the glue in their little group. Granted, Aurora hasn't been here very long yet, but with Rhoda in the mix she is being a little less "diva" and a little more friendly. Aurora has also started sleeping on Alan every night (he's her favorite).

Rhoda is very affectionate. She usually sleeps on my neck, which I imagine will be uncomfortable later on if she still wants to do it, but for now she curls under my chin and purrs and purrs. She still needs to nurse though, and sometimes gets a bite in on my chin, ear, or lip. Rhoda even nurses off of Walter. She likes to wrap herself around Walter's bad leg and suckle his fur. It very much reminds me of Piper trying to nurse off of Wembley.

She's definitely our little darling!


Walter: Six Months Later

>> Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's hard to believe Walter has been here for six months tomorrow, August 18th. It's a bittersweet day. Wembley passed away on January 18th. Just typing that out makes my eyes brim with tears. I avoid saying those words. Because of this, Walter is incredibly special to me. Even though we still had Reagan and Quincy during the first month of Wembley's absence, my heart was unbearably empty. Wembley was always by my side, in my lap, pawing at me, laying on me, snuggling with me, and sleeping nose to nose with me. She was my best friend. And this shy golden chow boy popped up on Dogs in Danger.

I never thought I would have a boy dog, but when I saw Walter's face, the thought of him dying alone, disabled and without a family, just destroyed me. By adopting Walter, there would be some sort of silver lining to the tragedy of Wembley.

Now, the odd part of this story is Walter's name. At the pound, his name was "Pops". In January, when Wembley was still alive, my sister took a cat home from work that nobody wanted. She was trying to find a home for the cat, and was taking name suggestions. It was a boy cat, so I told her to name him Walter. The cat ended up being called Guido, but I still had the name Walter bouncing around in my head for some reason.

Flash forward to the 14-hour round trip drive my sister and I made to the dog pound, and we were thinking of names. I tried calling Walter a bunch of typical dog names, like Max, Rusty, and so on, but he didn't respond to any of them. That's when I realized the reason the name Walter was floating in my head for over a month, and it stuck.He was terrified of people, but wanted affection. He had a nasty accident in the car because he was so scared, only a block away from the dog pound, and later repeated this in the bathtub. Walter was scared to eat, but hungry, and shyly ate the heaping bowl of tasty wet dog food I set down in front of him. He was so scared of everything that Alan and I had to actually carry him everywhere for the first night. I took him to the vet the next day, and even then I had to carry him out of the house and into the car, which he hated. On the drive there, I cried and cried, not sure if Walter was even going to make it. The vet concluded he was in excellent health, and just being a stubborn Chow Chow.

Slowly, Walter began being rehabilitated. I don't know if he was ever potty trained, because he had several accidents in the house in the first months, but with a strict schedule and crate training, he is now fully housebroken and crate trained. He is still a little timid with certain things, and carries that dominant Chow Chow trait of not liking a change in his schedule. Walter doesn't like new men, but warms up to them when he knows they're nice. He loves children, and he no longer tries to hide in the dog beds or toy bins when we take him to the pet store.

I hope he is having the best time of his life. We may have saved Walter, but I'll never be able to repay him for what he has done for me. Walter is my therapy dog in this nightmare of losing Wembley. He is loyal and kind, sits by me, snuggles with me, and just loves me the way that only a dog can do: unconditionally. He may have been a reject at the dog pound, but in this house he is a royalty. Our silver lining, and so much more.


The Dynamics of Adjusting

>> Thursday, August 12, 2010

It is always interesting to see the dynamics of our pack when there's a new arrival. Reagan especially has had a lot of adjusting to do this year. Rhoda is fitting in swimmingly of course, and the cats are now forming their own little clique, even though I think all of them prefer the company of dogs.

Aurora was not a huge fan of Rhoda, as expected. She came from a family with only dogs, but she is doing a great job of getting along with Piper. Aurora is a diva. She likes to be the center of attention, and loves to be held. She was so annoyed with Rhoda that she stayed in the basement for the majority of the first two days. Now she is back to normal, roaming the house and showing up in our bed or next to it every morning.

Walter is a lot better with Rhoda now. The first day we brought her home, he picked her up thinking she was lunch! Now he still gets into "I see prey, must get it" mode only on occasion. He can walk right by her and sit by her (under supervision). I wouldn't leave him home alone with her, but we don't have to stick to him constantly either. Once she gets bigger, this won't be a problem, but his Chow Chow prey drive is strong, and by all means not his fault.

Quincy is being driven mad, only because she thinks Rhoda is something to herd. As Rhoda gets bigger she will make a good playmate for Quincy.

Piper and Rhoda are my favorite to watch. Piper is the best cat in the world (she is the Wembley of cats), and incredibly patient with Rhoda. She lets Rhoda bat at her, she lets Rhoda invade her space on the cat tower, and she even lets her take over playtime. Rhoda follows Piper, and I think sees her as a mother figure of sorts. Piper is teaching Rhoda how to hunt. If their favorite toy, Da Bird, is out, Piper will hunt first, and let Rhoda try it out next. At first I thought this was a fluke, but they have continued to do this often. Sometimes I catch them napping side by side. Over time, these two are going to become best friends.


Rhoda Day 2

>> Tuesday, August 3, 2010

We are very much enjoying our new wee one. Rhoda fits right in here, and is getting comfortable navigating the house. Today, I weighed her on the postal scale and she came up at about twenty ounces, so just over a pound. This was surprising to me because Rhoda seems much smaller than Piper was when I found her, but Piper was one pound, one ounce. I will know for sure her weight on Thursday, when she goes to the vet for the first time.

Rhoda is very affectionate and loves cuddles. She is always sitting on us, purring and nestling in the crook of an elbow and the curve of our necks. One thing that makes me feel very sad is how desperately she wants to nurse. So far, Rhoda has tried to suck on our eyes (yes, that says eyes), our chins, my hair, our ears, and our fingers. She cries and cries and tries to nurse, which makes me feel very sad for her.

The exciting part is falling in love again. It's exciting for both of us to watch her learn and grow, and predict what she might be like as an adult cat. I love seeing Alan nurture her and snuggle with her. He is adorable when he takes care of our critter children.

Piper has been following Rhoda everywhere. She continues to reach out and tap at Rhoda's back, then run away. Or, she will put her nose against Rhoda's and run away a few seconds later.

I can't wait to see what she does next!


Small Surprises

>> Monday, August 2, 2010

There is nothing quite like an unexpected critter. This is definitely our last one, per our critter family agreement. We visited Delina and Gary over the weekend, and Alan fell in love with their new kitten, Claire. He was a cat person before he was a dog person, and sometimes that guy comes out, especially when there's kittens involved, so another kitten was his idea. We decided to get one from Midland County Animal Control for many reasons, one being that they use the gas chamber to euthanize their animals, and the other that they kill most of the kittens that come through their doors. Alan wanted to pick out this one, so we went on the website and he found one that he liked.

I called early and asked if they had the kitten, and the woman on the phone said yes, so I told her we wanted to adopt it. She told me to come over and called the kittens "little monsters". When I got there, some lady was at the front desk bitching up a storm to the deputy about some man that apparently poisoned her dogs with antifreeze, and that she couldn't pay $1000 to save them. It was totally awkward for me to be standing there, but I didn't know what else to do. Finally, the woman came out from behind a door and lead me to the back. A white pit bull gazed at me with sad eyes. A rottweiler mix stared; dogs barked and barked hoping to be let out. She grabbed the kitten out of the cage and left me in the "quiet room" with her.

The quiet room was not quiet. Instead, it was filled with howls and cries of fear from the dogs trapped in small cages. My heart was pounding, knowing the unfortunate fate of those poor souls. I waited and waited, bonding with the kitten. She crawled all over me, purring, climbing onto my shoulders and nestling her tiny self into my hair. The kitten she gave me was not the kitten Alan wanted, but a different one, but the woman had not told me this. It was hard to tell because the photo was so dark, and they are both gray and white tabby cats. The plan was if the kitten Alan wanted wasn't there, that I had to call him.

Finally, the lady came back and said, "You know that isn't the kitten in the picture." Why would she tell me on the phone that kitten was available, give me a different one, and THEN tell me? I knew Alan wanted to know if that one wasn't available, but after bonding with this girl, how could I turn my back?

After jumping through some crazy hoops that included calling my vet and pre-paying for a spay (can't take the cat home until the spay is paid for), the little girl was ready to go home. The deputy said, "Good luck with this one. She is wild."

We named her Rhodesia (Zimbabwe's name when it was just a republic)--Rhoda for short. She is very small and purrs constantly. She loves to be held, and is of course incredibly curious. And oh my, she is just SO small it boggles my mind. Piper was only a pound when I found her at work, so I am anxious to see how much Rhoda weighs, because she seems smaller.

The other critters are reacting like they usually do to a new addition. Reagan wants to play, Quincy is nurturing and also wants to play, Walter unfortunately has a very strong prey drive and wants to eat her right now, which will change when she gets bigger. Piper follows her everywhere and occasionally bats lightly at Rhoda, and Aurora (that diva) is currently pissed off, which she will get over eventually.

Alan is in LOVE. I adore seeing him hold her and pamper her. Rhoda is a good fit.



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