Chapter 74 Cold, Snow, Sleet, Freezing Rain –And Dogs



Greta in snow First came Valentine's Day snowthe bitter cold.  When the outdoor sensor  of the indoor/outdoor thermometer reads 5 degrees below zero, that’s cold.  Then there was the moderate snow, and then the ice storm that weighted down branches that fell across power lines, darkening and chilling thousands of homes.  Then there was the  ice, followed by heavy, wet snow that grounded airplanes and left additional thousands without electricity.

          None of it was good news for dogs or their walkers.  Dogs are very good at accepting what is and not obsessing over the weather.  And they need their exercise, need to jump and chase toys and run free in the park   But when the temperature falls into the negative digits  and/or the driveway stones are glazed to a fine shine and/or the snow is 24 inches high, their human makes executive decisions.  No park. They are lucky to get a walk around the subdivision.

          We know, to those who live in the American West,  -50 degree temperatures are no excuse for staying indoors and two feet of snow isn’t a good start on winter.  But, important point:  they’re used to it.  Blizzards are no big deal in South Dakota, and the average winter temperature in Wyoming is 15 degrees.  In Maryland, the average winter temperatures is 34.7 degrees.  Those extra 19.7 degrees make a difference.

          So, on January mornings this year when the thermometer hovered on either side of  zero,  Rusty didn’t go out until his sweater slid over his head,  topped by his jacket. On the worst days, Greta reluctantly stuck her paws through the armholes of an  old sleeveless top of mine.  And we didn’t stay out more than 30 minutes.

Temperatures eased a little when the ice hit.  But when Greta and Rusty  emerged to find the driveway stones glazed, even they slid a little on the way out to the street.  Their walker slid more than a little.

Again, the park was not an option.

          I don’t know if they understood.  It seems easier to navigate icy streets if you’ve got four feet to put down rather than two.  On the other hand, if you’re not wearing boots and road crews have salted the roads to mushy slush, you’re going to get that stuff between your toes.  When it refreezes as you play in the snow, it will hurt.

          Neither Rusty nor Greta has boots.  Tried a pair for Rusty, couldn’t get them on his feet.  Took the boots back to store.  So far, the best answer seems to be  wax that can be rubbed on the dog’s pads.  It helps keep the salty slush from forming painful little frozen balls between the dog’s toes.

          The ice storm devastated trees.  The subdivision filled with gunshot-like pops as large limbs crashed to the ground.   Throughout the area, the homeowners who saw huge limbs land across lawns and driveways were the lucky ones.  Others had limbs crashing through plate glass windows or onto the roofs of cars.  We walked around and saw our familiar neighborhood altered by the storm.  Weeks later, piles of brush would remain,  mute reminders of its impact.

          We did not walk  on the day of the two-foot snow.  The dogs were safe in the kennel, their owner stuck in the Miami airport, trying to get home amid thousands of cancelled flights.  Anything you want to know about Concourse D at Miami International, just ask.  We had time to see every store, every restaurant.  Saw all the liquor and cigarettes the duty-free shop could hold.  Saw the colorful fish display on one wall.  Saw the escalators, the tram, the restrooms.

          The good news:  by the afternoon of Valentine’s Day, we made it back to BWI and to our car.  The better news: my sister and a neighbor had shoveled enough of the driveway to pull the car off the road, and the kennel operator used her four-wheel drive to bring the dogs to the paved road.  The driveway was flanked by huge snowbanks, and the park still was inaccessible.

          But the dogs and I were home, we were together, and we didn’t have to spend the night in the Miami airport.  Snow can be moved, and it melts, eventually.

And it’s beautiful when it falls.  A little less of it would be okay.

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Chapter 73 If You Shoot Your Arrows at The Moon, At Least They Won’t Go Into the Bush

Rusty pix 2014-01-24 001

           Rusty has aspirations.  He aims high.  Of course, when you’re 18 inches tall, almost any goal seems high from your perspective.

          Rusty wants to be the toughest, most macho  Cocker Spaniel in the neighborhood, the town or maybe the world.  He wants to ride into town, swing down off his horse, trot through the saloon doors and announce, “The name’s Rusty.  Any dog here who thinks he can out-bark me, let him try.”

          No one will try.  They’ve  heard Rusty  bark. And bark.  And bark.  And, well, you get the idea.

                    There’s nothing wrong with wanting  respect,  but Rusty’s got a problem with the tough guy image he wants to earn.  It’s like casting Justin Bieber to play New York cop John McClane in “Die Hard.”  People would say, “Oh, isn’t Justin cute?”

          That’s what they see when they look at Rusty.  He’s got  long, floppy ears covered with curly white and tan fur,  big, sad dark eyes in a furry white face  and  an adorable way of resting  his  muzzle between his paws when he naps.  Women want to pick him up and cuddle him.  Wrong image for macho.

          Then there’s the issue of his breed.  One observer believes Rusty is not a Cocker.  Height and weight-wise, he fits the description of a Cocker Spaniel,, but in appearance, he strongly resembles photos of King Charles Cavalier spaniels.

It matters to Rusty because Cockers are a sporting breed; King Charles spaniels, a toy breed.  The word “toy” is not what he had in mind. Rusty wants to be a bird dog, even if the only birds he can find around here in winter are crows and seagulls.  With nothing better available,  he’ll point crows.

          As if a cute body and a small breed weren’t difficult  enough for a tough guy image, there’s the sweater.  It’s a masculine-looking sweater, dark grey-brown with horizontal stripes, sleeveless.  It’s sold by Wag A Tude,,   which is a pretty macho brand name.

          But it is a sweater.  What self-respecting dog would be caught outdoors in  clothing, for heaven’s sake?  Rusty’s  human is not the sort of person who wants to dress up dogs in little outfits.  But in the last three weeks, we’ve faced morning walks in temperatures as low as -2 degrees.   Weather experts say the temperatures haven’t  broken any records for the area.  If the weather experts had gone with us on our walks, they would have rated the outdoor temperatures “blinkin’ cold.”

          Greta doesn’t need a sweater.  She has the thick coat of her ancestors, who were bred to plunge into chilly waters off Nova Scotia to retrieve ducks downed by their owners.  Who knew she would need a coat like hers in Maryland?       

          Rusty needs a sweater.  His coat is silky, and, thanks to a recent bath, soft.  It covers his skin, but there’s no fur left over to provide extra warmth.  When the temperature is below freezing, the person who pays the vet bills is not going to argue about the effect of a sweater on Rusty’s self- image.

          So, is Rusty thwarted?  Not completely.  There is a silver lining.  After one too many incidents of Rusty peeing in various parts of his overnight quarters in the basement, his human decided a crate would be a wise investment.  As his veterinarian explained, once Rusty is crate-trained, he will need to be checked for physical problems if he wets in the crate.

          I set up the crate in the room outside my office, furnished it with egg crate foam covered by an old mattress pad, and waited.  Rusty sniffed it.  He walked in, turned around, scrunched up the mattress pad in a way that felt comfortable, curled up and took a nap. 

          He said to himself, “Been wanting a man cave.  This will work.”

          We haven’t closed the door yet.  Instructions from crate trainers say to make crate occupancy a pleasant experience.  I’m thinking another round of treats inside the crate, then closing it for a few minutes and gradually lengthening    the time he spends inside.  But so far, it seems like a win-win.

          And having one’s own man cave is a major boost to the macho image.













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How Our Christmas Tree Evolved

Christmas Tree 2013

Christmas Tree 2013

          (Donna is taking over Greta’s blog today).

          Once upon a time, when we chose the first Christmas tree of our marriage, I decided to decorate it in blue and gold.  It would be trendy, elegant.  It would look like the trees decked out by professionals,  perfect in its harmony of colors.

          I bought blue and gold balls.  Many of them are still around.  One box still bears a Woolworth’s price tag, a dozen blue balls for $1.79.  We couldn’t afford to throw out the bulbs that came with the strings of light, so there were some red and green bulbs.  I put them in obscure areas, so the lights  looked mostly blue and gold.  It worked. The tree looked semi-professional.

 If we lit the room with the tree lights only, the furniture also looked a lot better.  The room had a soft blue and gold glow.

          We kept the blue and gold theme through the first baby, Renee, and the second baby, Diana.  Then a craft-oriented friend made two white foam ornaments featuring our daughters.  Renee’s six-year-old face peered out from a snapshot surrounded by gilt and Diana’s two-year-old face peered out from a similarly decorated ball.  The ornaments were wrapped with red ribbons, held in place by colored push pins.  They weren’t blue and gold.  But they had to go on the tree.

          Our daughters’  aunt gave them a set of paint-your-own wooden ornaments.  When the young artists finished, a blonde angel blew an enormous blue trumpet.  A drummer was dazzling with glitter across his red chest. A camel had a green saddle blanket.  They went on the tree, in places of honor.

          Other ornaments happened along.  There was the delicately spun clear glass miniature sailboat Ron bought from a glassblower in Japan, and the rooster we bought from the Christmas shop in Manteo when we vacationed on the Outer Banks.  That was the year we took the girls to “The Lost Colony” pageant, and the sound of the guns frightened them.

  Diana made the red Christmas ball with a big glittery “D” in Brownies.  She sold lots of Girl Scout cookies, because she was an irresistibly cute Brownie.  Someone gave Ron a big tan beeswax ornament, in honor of his beekeeping hobby.  They had to be added.  They gave the tree meaning.

          Years zipped along.  Renee’s daughter and son grew out of babyhood and learned to make candy canes of twisted colored pipe cleaners.  They made sparkly plastic stars and Santa faces on spools, and gave the ornaments they made to their grandparents.  A friend gave us a red jingle bell with Ron’s  name painted on it.  We bought a drummer boy in a Christmas shop on a trip to Germany.  Renee gave us a red doghouse ornament she received in for a donation to her local animal shelter, inscribed in memory of Vulcan, our German shepherd/collie.  A few years later, she gave us another red doghouse with a dog in it, in memory of  Angel, our Labrador retriever/German short-haired pointer mix.   All went on the tree.

          Christmas, 2006.  Ron was very sick, too weak to help with the tree.  But he was able to put up the train garden he loved, and make the train run backwards for his grandchildren, one last time.  The fence was a little crooked, because the brain tumor had affected his vision.  We didn’t straighten it.

          Now, seven years later, ‘Tis the season, once again. I brought the ornaments down from the attic last week.  I put the  pipe cleaners, the drummer boy and angel, the foam ornaments and the similar decorations acquired over the years on the tree first.  It took a long time, because  they deserved the right placement.

          Then I opened the boxes of blue and gold glass balls.  Didn’t take long to put them on.  They’re nothing but ornaments.

(c) 2013 by Donna Engle

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Chapter 71 — New Guy in Greta’s Life




          Greta has  thoughts about sharing her home and life with another dog.   Her thoughts  run along the lines of,  “Son of a human!  What did I  do to deserve this?”

          Greta makes a good point that she wasn’t consulted on the matter.  I don’t speak Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever fluently enough to ask her if she wanted a little brother.

          (Greta’s voice in background:  “He’s more like a bother than a brother.  And no, I didn’t want one.  I was perfectly happy being an only dog.”)

          Rusty’s entry into our lives was sparked in a way by Patches’ exit.

          Patches, the calico cat with a talent for doing whatever she wished, was already a member of the household when Greta arrived seven years ago.  When they met, Greta did what any self-respecting dog would do.  She chased the cat.

          Patches leaped to the top bunk in the back bedroom and glared down at the intruder.  She meowed.  Greta barked.  Eventually, they worked out an accommodation.  Patches came down from the bunk bed.  Greta lunged forward.  The cat unsheathed her claws and clawed the air in front of the dog.  Greta  dropped back and Patches was able to stroll unimpeded to her food dish.

          There were occasional clashes after that, but for the most part, they agreed to a Palestinian/Israeli standoff.  There were even thaws in the relationship when dog and cat were able to share the dining room rug for naps.  Once in a while, Patches sneaked outdoors, and Greta looked on enviously  as the cat scaled the back fence and disappeared into the freedom of the neighbors’ yard.  Luckily for Patches,  and for the sanity of the humans who didn’t want to lose her,  she never roamed beyond two back yards.

          Patches was 11 years old when she fell sick.  The diagnosis was cancer.  With treatment, she might have lived another month.  It would have been cruel to put her through that.

          Greta could not have understood why Patches went away one day in her cat carrier and did not return.  But she understood that Patches was no longer around.  I don’t know if Greta thought the house was too quiet.  I did.

          We had a visitor dog one day, a miniature poodle who thinks  he is a Great Dane, or maybe a Saint Bernard.  He was a prospective adoptee, but first I had to know how Greta would react.

          She responded well.  She allowed him to sniff around her yard, to pee in various locations, to come in and lie down on her living room rug.  Gracious hostess behavior doesn’t get much better than that.  But the visitor dog’s foster mother decided to keep him.

          Enter Rusty.  Rusty’s photo was on the Humane Society website.   He sat there with his ears cocked, facing the camera with a hopeful expression.   He looked cute and huggable.   Nobody can do cute like a cocker spaniel.

          Rusty had some strikes against him.  He was shy and scared. And old.  He is 12.  And he needed dental work.

          This is what is known of his story.  He had lived with his person for nine years, and the person moved away.  Rusty was taken to a shelter in Indiana.  The person who turned him in at the shelter explained  that Rusty was peeing in the house, so he could not stay in that home.  Somehow, Rusty traveled from Indiana to Howard County, Maryland, where he lived with someone at some point in 2012.  Somehow, he traveled from Howard County to Carroll, where he ended up at the Humane Society shelter.

          “If it doesn’t work out, you can bring him back up to 30 days after the adoption is final,” the Humane Society technician said.

          No.  Rusty does pee in the house, but he has been here only one week, and he  has a urinary tract infection.  I’m not crazy about needing gallons of Nature’s Miracle, and it’s something we must work on.  Hard.  But he gets a bit of a pass until the infection is cleared up.  He can make it through the night, so at some level he understands that urinating is supposed to be done outdoors.  He can make it through the day if he gets frequent potty breaks.

         We will work something out.  Rusty’s a sweet little guy.  He deserves a home.  A real home, where he can stay.  Forever.

(c) 2013 by Donna Engle

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Patches’ Story




         This is for  Patches.

          We met Patches at the Humane Society.  She was looking for a home.  In her favor, she was cute,  in an odd sort of way.  But she had two strikes against her.  She was one year old,  an adult cat, not a little kitten.  And it seems there are always more homeless cats than there are homes to welcome them.

          The staff named her Patches.  I cannot recall how she ended up at the shelter, but many cats arrive there when they’re down on their luck.   Her coat was white, broken by patches of orange and black.  Her tail, of dark gray and brown striping, looked like it belonged on another cat.  Her official adoption description said, “calico.”

          Patches’ predecessor, Krista Lee, had been a wonderful cat.  She had a sweet temperament, used her scratching posts and enjoyed allowing humans to scratch her behind the ears.  She loved curling up in sunlit squares to nap, batting toy mice and watching the great outdoors from her window perch.   She had died of a brain tumor a few months earlier.

          My husband Ron felt the loss of Krista Lee more deeply than I did,  but I missed her too.  Angie, our Cocker spaniel/Afghan hound mix (don’t ask—it’s a dog secret how Angie’s parents managed that) was a sweetheart, but we concluded she might be missing the companionship of another four-pawed creature while we were at work during the day.

          So we found ourselves in the Humane Society’s get acquainted room while Patches strolled around evaluating whether we might be worthy of her.

          We went home.  We thought about it.

          “She seems like a nice cat,” Ron said.

          We signed the adoption agreement on April 11, 2003, and Patches came home with us.  She took one look at Angie and leaped for the top of the bookshelf.   She made it.  Impressive, but unnecessary.  Angie  was not your average nervous spaniel.  She had a Type B temperament.  She was not the sort of dog who would go after a cat without a good reason.  The mere presence of a cat was not a good reason.

          Eventually, Patches came down.   She and Angie signed a non-aggression pact.  As time passed, they found they could  share nap space on an area rug in the dining room.  The site was out of traffic,  but convenient for observing any kitchen activity that might be interesting.

          It’s too easy to say Patches was a Jekyll and Hyde cat.  All the expert advice we could find, all the products we could buy, all the cat training techniques we read about, did not stop her from scratching deep gouges in $1,000 worth of furniture.  Her destructiveness was not a single act.  She scratched when and where the impulse struck, in front of human witnesses, in front of the dog,  no matter.  And then, within a few minutes, she climbed onto a convenient lap and purred her affection for the lap’s owner whose furniture she had just gouged.

          Patches was not quite a Jekyll and Hyde cat because her behavior was not a moral issue for her.  One website says calicos have “cattitude.”  Patches was simply doing whatever she pleased whenever it pleased her to do it, and nothing from squirts of water in the face to loud noises deterred her.   She was, her veterinarian said, “being true to her breed.”

          Patches settled into life with us.  She sat in the dining room window sill, where late afternoon sun bathed her and she had a good closeup of bird in-and-out activity in the yews outside.  She ate when she pleased, slept where she pleased.

          Ron and Patches were simpatico.  They were television buddies.   Approximately two minutes into the first program of the evening, Patches would land on Ron’s lap, settle herself and purr.  He would stroke her.  The two of them could stay that way until the end of the program, when Ron would get up to get a diet soda and Patches would find herself summarily dumped.  But only temporarily.  After commercial breaks, the tableau would re-form for the next program.

          In autumn,  2006, Angie got sick.  She tried to eat, but could not keep food down.  We put her on a diet of chicken bits,  broth and rice, which worked for a short time.  But soon she was unable to keep even the bland food down.  Her efforts to walk went sideways.

          “Vestibular disease,” the veterinarian said.  Peripheral vestibular disease, which is probably what Angie had, can be  related to ear infections or trauma from head injury.    There is no way to know whether Angie had any ear infections or  head injuries before we met,  but she was deaf.  The Cocker spaniel rescue people hadn’t told us—did they think we wouldn’t adopt her if we knew?   We figured out within a few weeks that Angie could not hear.

          Angie compensated.  She watched us closely.  She learned that the sight of her leash   was the cue for a walk.  She learned dinnertime by scent.   She learned that when I went into the kitchen at night and got out a Milk Bone, it was time for her and the cat to go downstairs to bed.

          When the vestibular disease struck and the chicken and rice diet did not work,  we  took Angie to the veterinarian, carrying her into the clinic because she could not walk straight.  It was scary to watch, as she tilted her head and tried to straighten out a world gone suddenly crooked.

 The veterinarian gave us pills for Angie.  Within an hour, I was on the phone to the clinic.  I gave Angie a pill, she threw it up.  Repeat.  How could the medication help if she could not keep it down?

          Bring her back, they said.  That time, the vet gave her a shot.  It seemed to help, temporarily.  She was able to keep the next pill down.   As dinnertime came, Angie could not stand up at her food dish.  I sat on the floor as she lay down, feeding her small bits of cooked chicken and rice and chicken broth.  She threw them up.

          We carried her downstairs at bedtime and put her on the rug.  The next morning, she had not moved.  We carried her outside.  She tried to urinate, but staggered.  I held her body so she could urinate.

          Over breakfast, we decided.  The pills were not helping because she could not keep them down.  She could not walk or play or eat.

          “There’s no quality of life,” Ron said.

          We did for Angie what we would want her to do for us if our roles were reversed.

          Patches was our lone four-legged householder for a few weeks, until Greta came into our lives.  When they met, Patches leaped to the top bunk bed in the spare bedroom.  Greta stood below, barking.    They called a truce by dinnertime, and each went to her own food dish.  Patches’ dish was moved atop the counter, as Greta revealed a taste for cat food.

          They settled into a  routine.  Greta received twice-daily walks.  Patches got all the outdoor time she could by slipping out when the screen door closed too slowly.  She was generally recaptured within a few minutes.

         That autumn,  Ron was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  He still loved Patches, and she continued to sit on his lap whenever he watched TV.  But Greta licks hands, a habit he found offensive.  I tried unsuccessfully to train her not to lick, but Ron was unable to help with reinforcement.  His tumor-attacked  brain would not process  fast enough.  As a result, he tended to avoid the dog.

          Fall slid into winter.  Ron grew worse.  And worse.  He died.

          Greta and I put a life back together, slowly, over a horrible long year.  Patches, too, but a cat cannot offer the loving empathy a dog can provide.  I believe Patches missed Ron.  On the rare occasions when I sat down to read, she would crawl in my lap and purr and wait to be stroked.  She would bat her string when I dangled it for her.  The mice with rattles were a less successful toy, as Greta chewed them into dank furry clumps.

          Patches continued her furniture destruction program.  I fought back with sheets to cover the living room sofa and chairs and mailing tubes cut to slide over and protect the dining room chairlegs.  Patches won.  She had time, patience and motivation.  She also had  the ability to get under the protective items to the deliciously scratchable wood or fabric beneath.

          As fall, 2013, began chilling the region and shortening the days, Patches began to boycott her food.  She had boycotted occasionally before.  On a boycott, she was not tempted by her favorite Purina One salmon and tuna dry cat food, nor by the best of savory canned food  that corporate America could pack into tiny cans at nearly $1 apiece.

          I tried assorted recommended brands of canned food, but nothing met her majesty’s approval.  I resorted to a high-calorie supplement that optimistically suggested on the label that cats would eat it voluntarily.  Clearly, they hadn’t met Patches.  But when I got some down her throat, she would eat a little cat food.

          Two weeks into the boycott, I noticed Patches was losing weight and nothing I did was helping.  Time to see her doctor.

          “Kidney cancer,” he said.  He could feel the tumor.  An X-ray revealed nodules along the bones where more tumors were growing.  He could give her steroids as a palliative, he said.  Treatment would buy her a bit of time, perhaps a month.

          I said no.  I would want Patches to say no for me if I were the patient.   When death is inevitable, is it not better for it to come now than after a month of slow decline?

          After Patches was gone, I put the empty cat carrier in the car and drove home.  The sun was painting the clouds with warm colors.  I don’t generally believe in signs, but if there is a little cat at play beyond the clouds, I’m fine with that.

          If the Spirit has found a home for Patches out beyond this planet,  I am grateful.  Just one cautionary note:  Dear God, Watch your heavenly furniture.

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How about a drink

An important reminder–we love our dogs, but sometimes we forget their needs are similar to ours.

Weakly Thoughts

I sat around home all week getting bored, so when my family mentioned going to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum I jumped at the chance to get out and see new sights. The museum was having a “Small Boat Festival”, home built kayaks, canoes and small sailboats. In addition the museum has displays of boat restoration including the final stages of restoration of the – Rosie Parks, a Skipjack built in 1955. I expected a day filled with fun.

The day started a bit cool, I had my normal light coat – I wear it everywhere. But as the day wore on the temperature rose into the upper 80°F. But as the morning turned into mid day I started to become thirsty and needed a drink. But my family didn’t listen to me. Finally by mid afternoon they stopped into the gift shop, great I’d be out of the…

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Chapter 68 Grim Solution to Too Many Cats


          The day we learned how many cats are being euthanized was  a golden day under a sky where the blue stretched into forever.   Greta’s  Sunday afternoon plans  involved putting more squirrels back into trees and walking up the street to visit her friend Max, the border collie.  But sometimes the best-laid plans of dogs are interrupted  by their humans.

          Greta’s naked  ape  put her in the car and drove up to a barn that, on ordinary days,  houses a riding ring where disabled youngsters learn  to ride horses.  Once a year, the building  fills with dogs, cats, ferrets and their humans, moving from line to line in front of tables and chairs where volunteers write down information about the animals and then veterinarians give them rabies vaccination shots.

         Greta was okay with the driveway leading to the clinic.  There were tantalizing layers of scents where others had peed before her.  There were dogs walking in the same direction she was going.  Little dogs were riding in their humans’ arms.  Cats were thumping along in cat carriers.  Greta met some people who petted her and told her she was beautiful.

          An animal advocacy group stood outside the building passing out flyers urging people to have their cats spayed or neutered.

          The flyer contained a shocking statistic.  “In 2012, the Carroll County Humane Society destroyed 1,905 cats,” it stated.   That would mean the society staff had to kill an average of  more than five cats a day, every day, because there are too many cats and not enough homes for them.

         Is killing homeless cats the best solution we can find?   There has never been public support (and funding) for a no-kill shelter in the county.  But  absent such support, Animal Advocates of Carroll County offers  transportation to low-cost spay and neuter clinics and some financial aid, according to the flyer.   Neighboring counties also offer low-cost options to spay and neuter cats.  If we reduced the number of new kittens coming into the world, perhaps we wouldn’t have to kill so many to make room in the shelters.

          If Greta could add her voice,  I’m sure she wouldn’t want kitties to die needlessly.  Greta has to growl at her personal cat sometimes when Patches gets too near the dog’s food dish, but the cat is company for her when her person is not at home.  Greta has been spayed.  She never had a choice in the matter, but life without puppies seems to have been good for her.

          Although Greta had been fine with the approach to the rabies vaccination clinic building, it all changed inside.  She got in line with her person behind a pair of young humans.  Each had a cat carrier, but  Greta didn’t want to bother with the cats.  What she  really wanted was  to poke her nose at  the khaki-covered rear end of one of the cat owners.  He was less than enthusiastic, understandably.

          Waiting in line was stressful.  So many people, so many dogs, from  little Lhasa Apsos to a dog the size of a pony.  Someone sniffed her rear without even a basic preliminary “Hi.”  She didn’t see that coming, but the  dog may need to rethink his approach.  He won’t get far walking up to ladies and trying to get intimate without preliminaries.  Greta laid her ears back and tucked her tail over her private  parts,  presumably to resist future similar intrusions.

          We reached the registration table.  One of the volunteers tried to make friends with Greta, but she wasn’t interested.  Her ears stayed back and she sat down, just in case.  He understood that it was not a good time for her, friendship-wise.   We proceeded to the tables where veterinarians were giving the shots.

          “I can’t lift her onto a table,” I told the veterinary technician.

          “No, she’s not going on the table,” she replied.  “I’ll just hold her head while the doctor goes around back and gives her the shot.”

          A quick prick in the hip, and it was all over.  Greta and I walked out into the sunshine.

          Greta has forgotten the experience.  She has a new rabies vaccination tag, and she won’t have to go to the barn clinic again for three years, which is a long time as dogs measure time.  But the statistic about the cats hangs on the heart.  We can’t add a cat to the family, but we must find a way to help.

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