Sunday, December 12, 2010

Animal House

Ah, being busy. I began a new job in October, so now I teach for Phoenix and work for the Butler Hill Group as an independent consultant. Both jobs are part time, both are internet-based jobs I can do from home. This means that I rarely put on real clothing. Pajamas are my work uniform!

So now I am seriously busy. Remember when weekends used to be for doing fun things instead of cleaning the house? Yeah, that kind of busy. And cleaning the bathroom should not really be a major accomplishment, and yet...

And there needs to be a lot of cleaning right now, because we have a house full of animals right now. Leland and I both started volunteering for the Humane Society. We're part of the animal enrichment team, which means that we work with dogs that need a little extra help to become more socialized, learn self-control, become better walkers, or whatever. Between us we spend anywhere between 5-10 hours per week at the facility.

We're also a foster family for the Humane Society, and we have two animals of our own. I thought I'd introduce them to you all.


Fletcher is a two-year old cat and can you see the tiny puff of white on the end of his tail? So cute. We have had Fletcher since he was about 2 months old. He was a "free" kitten. Yes. So free. So free, the vaccinations and the neutering.

Fletcher has Irritable Bowel Disease, which is kind of like Crohn's Disease in humans. Basically, the digestive tract from the stomach through to the - uh - other end becomes inflamed, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. The condition can be life-threatening due to dehydration or poor absorption of nutrients, but it's easily controlled with corticosteroids and sometimes by diet
alone. We think Fletcher might have a chicken allergy, but it could also be an auto-immune reaction.

You don't want to know what we had to pay the vet to figure this out. Fletch's first episode happened about two months ago and it culminated in a bout of renal failure, a multi-day stay at the emergency vet, and stomach surgery. But he's all better now!

NovaNova is our brand new doggie, a two-year old Chocolate Lab (with something else thrown in there, but she looks almost purebred) that we adopted from the Humane Society three weeks ago. She is, shockingly, normal! Sort of. She is a glutton for attention, which is why the picture is so crappy. Normally she looks like this if you have her attention:

She loves attention so much that it becomes a bit overwhelming. Like, please, please just leave me alone for one TINY SECOND. We don't know much about how she got to be at the shelter. One report was that she was a stray whose owners were contacted but didn't want her back (!?), another was that she was being persecuted by the owner's other dogs and so the owner surrendered her to the facility.

Whatever the reason, she has a permanent home with us now.

TrustTrust is our foster dog. He's a 1 year old lab/terrier mix, and he has floppy ears yes he does. Trust and his three sisters were found as strays before the litter was a year old. Unfortunately, none of the litter had any contact with humans before they were brought to the facility, which for Trust was at about 9 months old.

I usually describe Trust as semi-feral. Before we began fostering him he had never been in a house before, or encountered things like stairs, TVs, fans, dishwashers, or an
y of the other pieces of normal human life. When I first met him in September at the facility, he wouldn't even look at me. When we first brought him home he didn't eat or go to the bathroom for three days! Now he eats from my hands and comes up for affection. He's got a ways to go, but he gets a little more confident every day.

Trust's Petfinder page

Trust's sister Hope is also up for adoption. Hope's Petfinder page

The Kitty Family

Rounding out the circus are Meadow and her three kittens. They live in our spare bedroom, making it the cutest spare bedroom you've ever seen, I'm sure. We haven't introduced them to Fletcher because the steroids he's on suppress immune system function.

Mommy Meadow was discovered late in pregnancy, and she delivered at the shelter. We got the kittens when they were about 3 weeks old, old enough to really begin moving around and pestering Meadow. We'll keep them until 8 weeks (I believe?) because it's not legal to have animals up for adoption prior to 8 weeks, and this gives them more room to play than a small
cage at the facility.

I don't know how old Meadow is, but I doubt she's more than a year or two. When she arrived at the shelter I've heard she was pretty feisty. Pregnancy makes many female cats friendlier (ah, hormones), but we still weren't sure how she'd behave in a home. Shockingly, she is one of the friendliest, most outgoing cats I've ever encountered. Two hours after we brought her home I went into her room (we'd been leaving her alone to get used to the space), and she came up to me purring and wanting to be fed.

As the kittens are in the process of being weaned now (she still nurses, but they also eat dry food), I'm hoping her sweet nature doesn't vanish along with those hormones!

Meadow is a good, but strict mother. I've seen her pin one of the kittens down and give it a bite on the belly (not hard, and not enough to keep the kitten from getting right back up an
d going after her tail again). The kittens are clean and everyone uses the litterbox perfectly! Go, Meadow! She talks constantly, chirruping to us and to the kittens. Meadow will be up for adoption when the kittens are, in a few weeks.

Because we're fostering them, we got to name the kittens. All three of them have plant names because Meadow is their mom. Of course their little personalities aren't really that developed yet, but there are hints of how they will behave as they grow up.

Thistle is the biggest and boldest kitten, and doesn't he have pretty eyes? He's always the first kitten to be physically able to do something - drink water, climb the scratching pole, balance on the windowsill... he is a handful.

Chicory is the second boy in the litter, and he is entirely black with green-blue eyes. Chicory is a scaredy-cat. He took longer to become used to us than his siblings, and he is always cautious in checking out new things in his space. However, I suspect he may be an evil genius. He just looks like an evil genius in this picture.

Poppy is the only girl in the litter, despite her white mustache. I think she's smarter than either of her brothers. She's smaller than either, but she is so curious. She's the first to do everything that doesn't require particular strength - the first to come up to greet me, the first to dash into the hall, even the first to figure out how to climb up on the bed. She also loves to eat camera cords, as you can see.

And finally, I have to mention our foster kitty Butternut. We found Butternut in someone's garage and thought he was our missing cat Pumpkin (still missing). But when we took him to the vet, he didn't have a microchip and he did have testicles. Whoops. Butternut is 8 months old and he is up for adoption! Here's his petfinder page

It's a lot of animals. A lot of filling water bowls, handing out food, scooping poop, and sweeping up hair. It certainly keeps us busy! But who wouldn't want to take a kitten break during work? Or spend their evenings watching this?


  1. Awww, so much cuteness!! :-)

    I'm totally jealous - I've always wanted to be a Humane Society foster family, but I doubt we'll ever live in a big enough apartment (with a permissive-enough landlord) to allow for it.

  2. Wow, look at Trust being a dog!! He's not plastered on his rug in the corner.