T.C. Has Questions and He Ain’t Leaving Without Answers

On a typical evening, I am accosted at the interior door by flailing limbs and peanut butter breath. This evening was different. Someone else had taken over Shiva’s greeting duties and I was instead faced with this:

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If the look on His Excellency’s face means anything, I had messed up, big time.

Desperate to make amends, the first thing I did was check his food bowl. To my surprise, it was almost as full as it was this morning. Then I checked the three water dishes, all placed in strategic locations around the house. But they were all full as well. So what was his damage?

Deciding to ignore his glare, I took the dog outside and then collapsed on the couch to fire up Facebook. After scrolling my newsfeed, still giggling over the latest George Takei photo, I finally realized the cause of the Kitty Meister’s impatience.

Today is January 22nd, the most important day on the feline calendar – National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day.

023Since I forgot this holiest of cat holidays, I am a jerk. The only way to make it up to him is to sit down and hear what he has to say. The problem with that is, after last year’s debacle when all he did was demand I feed him our pet fish, I am really not interested in pandering to his selfish demands. Heck, I feed him expensive food, brush his glorious fur, and furnish him with cozy places to sleep. Yet no matter how much I do for him, he blows me off every time I want a smidgen of affection. He nigh taunts me with his disinterest, rubbing his body around my legs and then dashing away the instant I lean down for a pet. If anyone should be making requests around here, it is me.

Alas, I am a sucker. One look at those inscrutable eyes and I find myself giving in. It is the day for it, and all. One question wouldn’t hurt. Right?

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Me: Okay, Kitty. You win. You get one question. Go.

The Cat: I am The Cat, you are my human servant; I will have as many questions as I please.

Me: Is that your question?

The Cat: I believe I am the one doing the asking here, not you.

Me: Is that a yes? There is wine that needs drinking, I don’t have all night.

The Cat: Fine. Ugh. No wonder you humans are such wretched hunters. No patience.

Me: Hey, if you’re willing to sit in my lap, I will answer your questions all night. Until then…

The Cat: Gag me.

Me: Still waiting, Cat.

The Cat: This is a two-part question.

Me: Of course it is.

028The Cat: One: when are you getting rid of the dog? Two: do you know how much you drool in your sleep?

Me: One, never and two… That is not a question! That’s it. Interview over!

The Cat: No, really, because it’s quite disgusting… Wait, where are you going? I didn’t give you permission to leave. Oh, what is that I smell? Is that ambrosia? Is that the most delectable treat in all the world? I must have it!

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So much for that. At least it is easy to shut him up.

Does your cat have any questions today? If so, I sincerely hope they are less insulting.

Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange – NEPA Pets, Pet Expert of the Northeast

Pet-Bloggers-Gift-Exchange-graphicWhen I found out who my match was for the Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange I was almost more pumped than last year  – if such an emotion is possible. Not because the author is my close friend or because it is a website I frequent often, more because of the exact opposite. Obviously I knew of NEPA Pets and I have been following the blog’s Twitterfeed for some time, I’ve even had the honour of conversing with the accomplished writer via Facebook, but she isn’t someone I have been lucky enough to get to know on a personal level. The website itself, while a fantastic resource for pet lovers in Northeastern Pennsylvania and elsewhere, never found it’s way into my regular rotation. Which is a shame. Nonetheless it excited me as I had a whole new blog to explore! And who doesn’t love that?

Nepa Pets

First off, I have to say that the human mind behind NEPA Pets is brilliant and hilarious. I mean, just look at this first line from her about page:

“Oh, NEPA is a magical place, where unicorns slide down rainbows while glitter rains down from cotton candy clouds.”

Right away I knew this was someone I had to uncover.

Second to that, her pets are gorgeous. I could just look at her cat, Omar, all day long. As soon as I saw his portrait on her Facebook cover photo, I was in serious love.

Nepa Pets

From the adorable pawprint logo – seriously, I would wallpaper my house in pawprints if I knew my landlord wouldn’t have a conniption – to the funny and insightful “You Know You’re a Pet Parent When…” feature there is so much to which I can relate. Then, when I found out she is owned by Jack Russell Terriers? Better yet, a JRT named Havoc? That’s when I was hooked for life. I fully intend on pestering the heck out of her when I finally get my own convince my PH that a JRT would be the perfect addition to our wee family.

Somehow this writer has time to not only care for four dogs, six cats, four birds, two Guinea pigs, one ferret AND one rabbit, but also to, I assume, feed herself, go to work, and publish a popular blog providing useful information to her local pet community. Yeah, did you get all that? I did the math. It doesn’t add up. Remember, she lives with Jack-off-the-wall Russell Terriers, plus all of these other critters who need attention every day. This woman is a force and should be taken very, very seriously.

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I am certain she wakes up with much more energy than the rest of us. She clicker-trained her rabbit, for crying out loud! If that doesn’t say infinite patience, nothing does. Heck, she and Glee have come a lot further with the retrieve than Shiva and I.

One of the things I admire the most is how NEPA Pets has established itself as a pet expert within the local area. It was one of the things I longed to do when I lived in Halifax but was prevented due to laziness and a job in the local hotbed of animal welfare. I wasn’t able to push myself forward due to professional conflicts and it is something I felt lacking about my website. NEPA Pets, on the other hand, has been able to fit right into that niche, contributing greatly to the local pet culture. For instance, I love the fact she has set up a whole Facebook group for owners in her region. What an incredible way for people to connect!

Of course, as the writer herself says, within the blog there is something for every pet lover, regardless of address. “NEPA Pets is a community where all pet people (and by all pet people we are talking about dog people, cat people, ferret people, parrot people, etc) can learn, love and share about the animals they love as well as help make a difference for those homeless pets in NEPA.”

soyouthinkyouwantaparrot2_thumbAnd it’s true. While perusing over her 2013 posts, I was able to learn quite a bit about pet care. One of my favourites, which I have marked in case the worst happens, was her post on how to handle a skunking. It is something every dog owner who lives near a forest fears. I am stunned it hasn’t happened with the Shivster. Yet. Or how about this helpful article on treating fur mites in rabbits? I also recall this terrific and informative post on parrot ownership that I wish more people would read before taking home their tropical friend. Her sharp wit and knowledgeable perspective would go a long way to changing a lot of minds. It should be standard reading in every pet store.

There are a lot of reasons to check out NEPA Pets. I have been attempting to capture it all on a single Pinterest board but it hasn’t come anywhere near doing the website justice. I recommend you just check out the real deal to appreciate the author’s wisdom and acerbic style. There is no way I could cover it all in one post. Seriously, a woman who finds the time to look this good after caring for so many fascinating animals while also contemplating a wicked assortment of DIY projects? This is someone who needs to be in your feed reader. Yesterday.

A special thanks goes to Something Wagging This Way Comes for giving me the push I needed to check out such an important website. I am a better person for it and I hope I have deserved the ultra kind post she wrote for me. If you are interested in learning about the other participating blogs, make sure to click on the links below. We could all use more pet related reading material, right?

In Lieu of a Holiday Card

Wherever this day finds you, whatever tradition you celebrate, I hope you are able to spend time with those you love the most, human and animal.

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Right now, as you are reading this, I am thinking of you and wishing you nothing but the most relaxing of holidays. I hope you have your feet up with a glass or mug of your favourite beverage and a furry friend in your lap. I hope you are comfortable and full of contentment.

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Now get off your behind and go create some memories!

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you.

With love and gratitude,

Shiva’s House of Deluded Dreamers

Making the Holidays Count

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It is a continuous struggle for me to savour the moment. Especially during the holidays I find I get so caught up in crossing experiences off my list that I don’t stop to appreciate my surroundings. Skipping from one festive tradition to another, grabbing at as many tasty morsels as I can, the season whips by and before I pause a moment to bask, it is done. This seems to be a general problem, doesn’t it? The glorification of busy and of doing all the things all the time is at once compelling and empty.

I was better at this last year. With dwindling funds, the holiday should have been depressing. We had no money for gifts, no budget for entertainment, and I was so exhausted I didn’t bake a single cookie. In spite of all that, we still managed to enjoy the moment for what it was meant to be. We had our tree, our out-dated strings of lights, music on the radio, and our little furry family. It was more than enough and we had as good a holiday as ever.

This year, however, I have forgotten to take the time to sit in the quiet and enjoy. Our – albeit slowly – recovering financial situation has enabled us to spend a little more and this somehow lead to an urgent need to dust off the old Christmas checklist. I had to drink all the eggnog, watch all the movies, sing all the songs, attend all the symphonies, put up all the lights, eat all the chocolate, take all the photos…

Of course, no matter how hard I work to get it all done, I still end up missing an item or two which inevitably leads to self-recrimination. For example, on the weekend I realized I had yet to send out a single holiday card. It made me feel like an enormous jerk. I meant to do it, only I forgot in all the gift-wrapping and Nutcrackering. Now it is December 23rd, Christmas Eve Eve, it feels like my time is up. Two days left to dance, to devour, to delve. Two days and the joy is done. What will I have to show for it?

Memories, I suppose. That must be the goal of all the anxiety. Gotta create memories otherwise in 2018 I might look back on December 2013 and… What? Hate myself for not attending a performance of A Christmas Carol for the sixth time?

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The holidays are special because they are so brief. As much as I adore the music, I don’t want to sing “Sleigh Ride” in February. It should be saved for December, when it is happy and relevant, when it makes my co-workers smile. If Christmas lights were not tacky in March they wouldn’t bring so much hope in the dark days of November.

I realize now, perhaps too late, that it isn’t shoving in all the festivity I can that helps me enjoy the season. Quite the opposite seems to be true. When I focus on the activities that have the most personal meaning, that is when I glean the most from this joyful time. If there is room for a bit of extra frivolity, one more lunch with friends or one more picture of my dog in an elf hat, that’s a bonus. But I should never feel let down by not jamming in as many customs as I can, as if it is some sort of holiday contest. It is far more important for me to take the time to soak it in, to indulge in the calm, and, when I have the energy, to share the little sweetnesses with others.

I don’t know how much computer time I will have between now and the New Year, unfortunately. It worries me a little, taking more than a day away from blogging. I feel my motivation is still so fragile that any slip or sabbatical, even two days, will snap it for good. With a little magic, this will not be the case.

Our travel plans are going to be fun, but hectic. It will be Shiva’s first Christmas away from home and, of course, I am very worried about how she will behave. All I want this holiday season is a less anxious dog and an un-harassed family. If we make it through this holiday without anyone’s head getting bitten off, I will consider it the celebration of a lifetime! Please wish us luck!

I will try to share a little something tomorrow, the best day of the year, but if I don’t I want to wish you all a very lovely, very happy, very relaxing holiday season. Thank you for all of your warmth this last year, even when I was being a selfish bratface and didn’t deserve it. You are the reason I am still doing this thing.

As a late gift to you, here is one of my favourite videos of all time.

Rescued Insanity Goes Caroldy

002It doesn’t happen very often. Take a second to enjoy a puppy kiss and you’ll miss it. But once a holiday season, maybe once every other,  I will get swept up in the egg nog and the Charlie Brown and the glitter and attempt to re-write a favourite seasonal tune with a canine twist. Now, to say my skills at the parody are limited would be a giant understatement. The declared Queen of Caroldies will always be I Still Want More Puppies. Have you seen her latest? So cute, so appropriate. Anything I attempt looks amateurish in comparison to the master.

But I can’t resist the lure. Every year one song in particular gets lodged in my brain. It isn’t a good song. It isn’t even a good Christmas song. But it is played on the radio ad infinitum and I find myself involuntarily singing it in the shower every morning. It drives everyone around me insane. I have come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with this spectre of a song is to re-work it doggy style.

002So here it is, “Last Christmas”, originally recorded by Wham! – the only true version – and written by George Michael. May my shower belting be less mind-numbing from here on in:

(If it’s too painful for you, I understand if you need to click away.)

Last Christmas
I gave you a toy
But the very next minute, you tore out its guts
This time
To save me a dime
I’ll give you a broken shoe box

Last Christmas
I gave you a blanket
But I turned around and it was peed on
This time
To save me a dime
I’ll give you a chewed up tree branch

Bankrupt and out of joy
I try to find
Something you won’t destroy
Tell me dog
Must you wreck everything?
Well
If it’s been a year
My wallet still feels the sting
“Merry Christmas”
I wrapped your gift and placed it
Cautiously under the tree
It was hard
Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you give me those eyes
I know you’ll trick me again

Last Christmas
I gave you a bully stick
But within three seconds you’d swallowed it whole
This time
To save me a dime
I’ll give you some stale dog food

Last Christmas
I gave you a ball
But all you played was keep away
This time
To save me a dime
I’ll give you a dirty sock

What do you think? Should I make my own music video? It’s bound to go viral, I am sure.

Olden Times and Ancient Rhymes…

Of love and dreams to share!

Ahem. I apologize. The instant the calendar turns to December I feel like I have free reign to belt out as many holiday tunes as possible. The iconic song from the best Christmas special ever is always one of the first on my playlist. It is this time of year when I miss choir membership the most. Christmas, for me, will always be able the music. I don’t care how much my PH teases or how many times the radio plays “Silver Bells”, there is such a small window of opportunity for rocking around the tree that I am compelled to take advantage.

Of course, the start of December marks more than just the ability to annoy people with my out of practice singing voice. It is also the beginning of some pretty big blogging events and I would be remiss if I did not provide the full details.

And the lights. Can't forget those.

And the lights. Can’t forget those.

calendarNumber 1 Today was the very first day of the brilliant Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers. Each day leading up to the 25th all host bloggers will be offering a different dog-themed giveaway. Every. Day. That is a lot of chances to win! Last year I was too distracted over things that did not matter nearly as much as winning doggy prizes and did not put forth my full effort. But this year, this year I have a feeling I am going to win big.

Since I am going to win it all, I guess there is no point in me sharing this with you. Still, I wouldn’t mind a little competition.

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Today is also the start of Something Wagging This Way Comes’ Pet Blogger Gift Exchange. The best thing about this event is that everyone is a winner! I can’t think of a better way to get to know my fellow online pet lovers. In fact, I found out who I have been paired with today – shhhh – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Don’t worry, it won’t be a secret for long!

In case you missed the sign up for this exciting holiday tradition, never fear! Submissions will be accepted until December 20th so as many people can join in the celebration as possible. What are you waiting for?

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This one I am much less anxious to share as I am much less confident of my chances. However, I have such a good time preparing my audition videos that I want to encourage all of you to do the same, whether you decrease Shiva’s likelihood of being selected or not.

Remember the wicked Andrew Grantham of Talking Animals fame? The one who donates 100% of the proceeds from his merchandise sales to the Nova Scotia SPCA? Of course you do. Every year, the talented video editor puts out a special holiday montage based on videos submitted by pet-loving fans. That’s right. Your pet might just end up an Internet star!

Last year Shiva and I auditioned but clearly I did not work hard enough to enable her entertaining qualities to shine through. Maybe this year is her big chance at glory?

006I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. Win or lose, we still have a blast trying. I encourage you to try out with your cat, dog, parakeet, or guinea pig as well. If you win, your video will be featured in a special holiday video. If you lose? You’ll have had a lot of laughs! Besides, it’d be awesome to see a few more Petosphere animals in the mix! Special thanks to Bringing Up Bella for the reminder of this opportunity!

Do you know of any other fun pet blogging events during the holiday season? Please share the details in the comments!

Learning How to Be Grateful: One Old Paystub at a Time

Today didn’t have the greatest beginnings. The pants I planned on wearing had a rip in them but I had to wear them anyway and hope nobody noticed because no other pairs were clean. Also, I haven’t purchased a new item of clothing in over two years and I am running low on options. Shiva spent forty-two minutes of our forty-five minute walk sniffing a single clump of snow so I didn’t get the exercise that usually helps me face the day. I was worried about a friend who had to face a pretty scary job interview and my leftover spaghetti lunch spilled out of the container and into my tote bag.

Gripe, gripe, gripe, gripe.

As it is the American Thanksgiving and as I missed out on writing my annual Canadian Thanksgiving post due to indolence, I wanted to take some time today to share my overdue gratitude. Apparently, though, all I can think of right now are the ways things didn’t go right, instead of the countless ways they did.

I mean, my cat and my dog actually shared the same chair! This should thrill me for at least a month!

I mean, my cat and my dog actually shared the same chair! This should thrill me for at least a month!

Which, really, is a general problem of the human brain and the purpose of this day in the first place. Why do we seem to ignore the millions of things that go well, in favour of fixating on the few things that go less well? If there is anyone out there who knows the answer to this, please provide me with the link to your blog yesterday.

Each year I tell myself I am going to cultivate a daily practice of gratitude. Each year I do nothing. I get stuck in the medium, pondering the best way to go about expressing my thankfulness as opposed to just expressing it. Missing the point seems to be a habit with me.

Last January I found this great idea on Pinterest – as one does – that suggested creating a gratitude jar. The image iself was beautiful. A lovely glass vessel decorated with gleaming ribbon and filled with little white notes neatly clipped. It seemed so simple and yet so special. The initial concept was that at the end of year, or in the midst of a particularly rough day, I would pull out the hand-written thoughts and remember how much good there is in the world. It was a brilliant idea, a genuis idea! I instantly fell in love.

But I didn’t budge an inch. Instead I obsessed with finding the right jar and then determined I would never create anything as pretty as what I saw online, deciding to just give up completely. It was too much work. I’ll do it next year. Maybe.

Who can compete with this?

Who can compete with this?

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So here I am. December is a sleep or two away and I have done nothing but bitch for eleven months. Again.

It’s ridiculous because the thing is, I have a million things for which I am grateful. The point of the jar isn’t to make something that looks appealing in a photograph. The point is to dedicate a bit of time to feeling positive about my life. It doesn’t matter if it goes in a glass decanter covered in unicorns and sparkles, it only matters if I sit down to acknowledge how lucky I am. There doesn’t even need to be a jar! I can use a shoebox or an old pot or a grocery bag!

Because as much as I complain I am grateful. I am grateful I even have all three of the aforementioned things around to use! The box means I have something to protect my feet, the pot means I have a way to cook dinner, and the bag means I have enough money to purchase food. I am grateful I have a computer that still works enough for me to type this. I am grateful I have a blanket on my lap and a healthy dog beside me and a furnace that supplies heat. These are all amazing things! Stupendous things! Things that should make me dance every morning on my way to the shower!

Well, maybe not dance. With my lack of coordination that early in the morning I am likely to fall down the stairs and throw my whole gratitude thing down with me.

So even though it is only November 28th and not January 1st, even though I don’t have a special jar, or special shiny paper or even a pen that doesn’t leak, I am going to start this thing today. I may have to write my notes on tissues or the back of old pay stubs but hey, I should be grateful I even have a pay stub on which to write! I may not remember to do it every day or even every week but it’s not about ticking off a box on my to-do list. It isn’t even about perfection. It’s about doing something for myself that may one day change my perspective and may even lead to doing some nice things for others.

It begins now.

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