Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Kitten season is winding down but we do still have some stragglers in the shelter. On Monday, I picked up another litter of 3 short-haired kittens to foster: two girls, Marion (tortie) and Pickford (brown tabby) and one slightly larger boy, Chaplin (brown tabby with white belly and paws). These guys are older (and bigger) than any of the others we've fostered, probably about 4-5 months old. While they were waiting for spay and neuter surgery, they broke with upper respiratory infections. They are residing in our bathroom (which is the warmest room in the house and the easiest to clean and disinfect.) Although they aren't really more ill than any of the other URI kittens we've fostered, they seem more miserable. Their larger body weights will help as we work through the too stuffy and miserable to eat stage. We've stocked up with stinky fish canned cat food, generic pedialyte, their prescribed doxycycline, syringes and lysine. I've had to force-feed all three of them since their food has been untouched since they got here. They are drinking a bit on their own but one was showing signs of dehydration so I've been forcing pedialyte with a syringe, too. They are so messy (drooling, coughing and sneezing) that I'm keeping a set of clothes in the bathroom just for working with them. I've also had to wash my face and rinse my hair a couple times. I'm suspecting that Corey, who recommended I take them, knew they were a pain to medicate and was happy to have them out of the shelter for a while. All three are big sweeties and climb into my lap whenever I sit down to work with one of them. The tortie will climb up my leg and back to get to my shoulder when I'm standing if I let her. I had no idea a kitten that size could perch so gracefully. With my legs spread out in front of me and one kitten part way up my chest, we have enough room for everyone on my lap. They lay there snuggled, gurgling and comfortable. The fact that they want to sit on my lap reassures me that I'm not just "that lady who shoves stuff down our throats" to the kittens.
The sneezing is decreasing which means they can rest better, so I'm hoping we're in the middle of the worst of it. We'll tuck them in and then head to my uncle's house for Christmas Eve. Tomorrow morning I'm helping clean cages at the shelter starting at 8 a.m. and then we're headed to my parent's house for Christmas. We'll have to squeeze some feedings in for the kittens, too.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
From their website:
CDF's State of America's Children 2008 report, a compilation of the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on poverty, health, child welfare, youth at risk, early childhood development, education, nutrition and housing. The report provides a a statistical compendium of key child data showing epidemic numbers of children at risk: the number of poor children has increased nearly 500,000 to 13.3 million, with 5.8 million of them living in extreme poverty, and nearly 9 million children lack health coverage―with both numbers likely to increase during the recession. The number of children and teens killed by firearms also increased after years of decline.
According to the CDF report, children in America lag behind almost all industrialized nations on key child indicators. The United States has the unwanted distinction of being the worst among industrialized nations in relative child poverty, in the gap between rich and poor, in teen birth rates, and in child gun violence, and first in the number of incarcerated persons.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Sidney, our last foster, was adopted on Friday within five minutes of her making it to the adoption floor. She had surgery on Thursday and we didn't have space on the floor for her. I had just cleaned a recently vacanted cage and was carrying her out to the floor, when a couple who was leaving saw her and asked if she was available. Poof--she was gone to a new home. That was the good news.
Bad news was that little Britches who was sitting in the back at the shelter the past few days waiting for surgery had gotten sick. She wasn't doing great, so I decided to foster her. (Poor Alan. I keep getting him into these situations.) This time I was more prepared. We gave her fluids before bringing her home. In addition to her doxycycline, I had Karo syrup and experience with forcefeeding. When I got her home, she was already so weak, she could only walk a few inch before having to lay down. I fed her watered down food with an eye dropper--she was able to swallow just fine--and put her down in her cosy bed with her shelter bedding, a towel underneath for extra padding and the stuffed teddy that had been with her all week. She kept creeping out and I'd find her on the linoleum against the cold tub throughout the evening. She continued to deteriorate, so I brought out the Karo syrup to rub a little on her gums. Low blood sugar can kill kittens quickly and the syrup sometimes brings them back. A near death kitten can be up and playing shortly after Karo syrup and time with a heating pad. She perked up a little bit but there wasn't anything more I could do for her but let her rest. She didn't make it through the night.
I'm including another happy ending to balance the last story out. I got a couple calls from a family that had adopted a kitten from us who was lethargic and sick with diarrhea. Their vet was concerned about FIP, which is certainly a scary thing to face since it's fatal, although it is rare. FIP can hit cats at any point in their lives but often appears in kittens. It comes from being exposed to a mutated form of a common feline Corona virus. Only a small percentage of cats exposed to the mutated form develop FIP. The most common symptom which is used to diagnose the FIP is a fluid filled stomach and often the diagnoses isn't confirmed until after the cat dies. (A full stomch in kittens usually means worms or another parasite, so you shouldn't ever panic about FIP until it's checked out by a vet.) Adults can carry the virus and never develop FIP and it can also be brought on in later life by stress. The very hard part of FIP is that there really isn't a definitive test for it and the vaccination for it is still relatively untested. The family made the tough decision to return the kitten to us and we immediately put her in an isolated cage until one of our vets could examine her. At this point, she has regained her energy and playfulness and doesn't appear to have FIP after all. If she'd had Feline Distemper, the other very scary kitten disease, she wouldn't be getting better and would be dead already. I'm hoping she'll okayed to go back to the adoption floor this week and maybe go back to her original adopters.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Large, strong breed dogs like pits, labs and hounds sometimes get "happy tail" while staying at the shelter. They wag their tails so hard against the walls of the kennel, the tips develop sores which can quickly develop into larger problems. In the past when adoption rates were slow, "happy tail" could lead to amputation but with our higher adoption rates, we haven't had to do that in a long time. The hardest part of treating happy tail is keeping the bandage on so we often use e-collars.
Earlier this fall, we had our first live dog birth since I've been working at the shelter--a really big litter--and we are remembering how much more work a litter of pups can be than kittens. They've been in two different foster homes but had to come back because the last family couldn't keep the mom in the pen with the pups. There's about a week left until they can be separated--they're eating on their own but not completely weaned. This last little bit of time is important to their socialization than their health. She is really sore and deserves a little time to herself. Yesterday, I took our momma dog out for a walk to give her a break from the puppies and it wasn't until it was too late that I realized she had happy tail. I will have a set of scrubs at work from now on to give me an option for changing clothes. The vet was worried about her and her pups pulling the bandage off and I was worried that a regular e-collar would be hard on the puppies. Gambit left my legs bruised and sore when he had his stint with an e-collar. After we got it bandaged, we were able to use a cervical collar that had come on another happy tail dog from one of our other shelters. It wrapped around her neck like a neck brace with straps that wrapped around her body and front legs. So, part of the problem was taken care of and now we'll have to see if the pups leave it alone.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Working in an animal shelter there's always a small risk that I'll bring something home on my clothes or shoes from work that will spread to the pets. I've come home covered in poop, blood, and vomit. I've been accidentally exposed to scabies while bathing puppies (which made me itchy--at least in my mind--the risk to me was pretty small) and a few other parasites. I try really hard to change right away when I get home and minimuze exposure. Saturday might have been the worst so far. I was sneezed, drooled and coughed on by at least eight different dogs with a very liquid form of kennel cough. It was in my hair, on my jeans, and all over my arms and body. I went through six different lab coats that day trying to stay ahead of the germs. When I got home, I had Alan meet me at the door with a robe and scrambled down to the laundry to de-germ while he held the dog back. After a long, hot shower, I felt much less like a walking commercial for Musinex and could actually greet the dog. A good glass of draft cider and good company makes even the respiratory infection gremlins disappear.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Foster Kitten Update: Lodi and Noni went back to the shelter on Monday for an exam before surgery, then came home again for one last night because we were out of space in the kitten room. Both had surgery on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day curled up together in the litterbox in their cage. The next day, Noni was back to her old self and Lodi was still a little scared. Noni was adopted that day by someone who had lost a cat recently that looked exactly like her. We see adoptions like that quite frequently and also people are looking for an animal just like their old pet personality-wise. While I've loved all my past pets, most of mine have come to me through serendipitous accidents, so, the idea of trying to find one just like an old one is a little foreign to me. Obviously, replacing a pet with a duplicate is not going to happen (at least until cloning is more common) since everyone is going to be a little different, but it's nice to see people so attached they want to try. Anyway, Lodi was still at the shelter this afternoon when I left but was doing much better and soliciting attention, so I'm hoping she'll be adopted tonight or tomorrow. I found out that she has the same talent I'd noticed before in Noni--they can both stand on their hind legs for quite a long time with any other support. Noni always did it in front of the TV stand where she studied her reflection, thinking it was another cat. They are both such beautiful cats and have totally won me over to the idea of long-haired kitties.
I brought Sidney home because her littermate was handlable right away and had already been adopted. Sidney came around in time for an exam but completely freaked out when they tried to take her to surgery, so I brought her home for some socialization. She's black and little and round both in her face and body. She hisses everytime you pick her up but then settles in to purr and snuggle. I was hoping to work with her just a week or so before bringing her back for surgeyr but that will depend on how quickly I can catch her in the basement. We still have about 1/4 of the basement filled with my grandma's stuff, so there are plenty of places to hide.
Monday, November 24, 2008
My big accomplishment today was replacing the wiring in a stained glass floor lamp that the puppy (now 3 years old) chewed up in his first six months. I had always known it was easy to do but kept forgetting to buy the kit. The hardest part was feeding the wire through the base and stem. I have a love/hate relationship with wire hangers. I try my best to keep them out of our closets but I'm always thrilled that I can find one when I need it. In addition to threading wire through the lamp, I have used them in the past year to thread cable through the wall, pick a lock, free a sock from the vacuum hose, attach a handle to a broken bucket and fish something important (for the life of me I can't remember what) out of a drain. [Actually, my big accomplishment wasn't really fixing the lamp but finding my favorite ratcheting screw driver complete with all of its bits which had been missing for over a year and was in the side pocket of an old bag.]
Gambit is apparently recovered (although still gassy) but will be on the EN food for a few more days. Veterinary bills totaled about $545.00.
Kittens are bounding through the room like a pack of velociraptors with furry feet and are getting into everything. They sound much larger than they really are. They only weigh about four pounds between the two of them but then again they do have eight feet. Lodi, the smaller and shyer of the two, and the one who was so sick I was afraid she wasn't going to make it, has really come into her own and will even stand up to the dog now. Right now she is snuggled up behind me on the back of the couch purring. 'Noni is perched on an enormous pile of freshly laundered blankets stacked on a chair and is fiercely attacking them. She's been gnawing on everything the past couple of days. We must be getting into teething time.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
On the foster front, both kittens are still occasionally sneezing and we have a very full surgery list Tuesday and none scheduled for the rest of the week, so Noni and Lodi are with us for another week at least.
Also, after a long bout of writer's block, I've had a very productive week and I received my contributor's copy of Exquisite Corpuscle with a very old story by me based on one of Alan's poems. The book also includes the work of many talented artists and authors.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
I dropped Evey the foster kitten off at the shelter today to get her exam and be ready for the surgery truck tomorrow. She'll have spay surgery tomorrow and go to the adoption floor right after. She'll be available to go home on Wednesday. We ended up having her with us for a whole month because she developed the sniffles and it took a while to get over them without resorting to drugs. We'd gotten quite attached to her but are also relieved that we managed to have our first successful foster. One of the pets broke her out of her confinement early on in the foster and so she freely mixed with our other cats and dog, a big no-no. Two of the cats are paying for it with the sniffles themselves but so far it hasn't gotten any worse and they should be fine. Our oldest cat is missing her playmate and was sitting at the front door looking forlorn for a while tonight. Did I say that we named her Evey after Natalie Portman's character in V for Vendetta because she was so fierce when she first faced the dog? Update: Alan informs me he named her Evey not for her fierceness but because she didn't realize her cage (small dog kennel) door was open the first few times we tried to let her out.
We still have 2 little girl fosters left (one of the vet techs named them Benoni and Lodi--apples?) from another litter which Alan has nicknamed the Fluff 'n stuffs. They came in feral, hissing and swatting. All the litter were variations on black or brown tabbies but one little orange tabby male. The orange tabby was friendly from the very beginning and won all of our hearts. They waited for a foster home for socialization and gaining weight for a long time but never went out, so I decided to take the 3 who remained after 2 hit the right surgery weight. The little orange one was losing weight in the shelter, a bad sign, and they all were showing symptoms of upper respiratory infections. We lost the little one the first weekend which was heart breaking, but I managed to nurse the other two through not eating and being so stuffy that their bodies shook with every breath. A combination of force feeding watered down canned food mixed with ground up lysine tablet, a nightly dose of doxycycline, saline nose drops, a humidifier and a lot of love seems to have gotten them through the worst. Sunday, they started eating on their own again. They are beautiful cats and will be probably be long-haired. Benoni is a tabby/calico mix with a cute little orange tip on her tail and Lodi is about a third size smaller and a black tabby. They will continue residing in our bathroom until they are symptom free and ready to go back to the shelter.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
We had to say goodbye to the little foster kitten yesterday. His urinary tract blocked up again and this time we couldn't get it unblocked. He was going to die horribly without an expensive surgery that probably wouldn't solve the long-term problem. Because of his very young age and his health history, both the shelter vets and an outside vet advised putting him to sleep. It was exactly what I would have told any of our foster parents, but it didn't make it any easier. Urinary tract problems at that age are really rare and usually mean something is wrong. Everything we went through with him only made it harder. I never would have thought a little kitten could get under my skin in such a short amount of time. Losing foster kittens is just part of volunteering--they wouldn't need fostering if their immune systems were developed and they weren't so vulnerable. We named him Leif in honor of the the Viking kittens.
Because we have an overabundance of kittens waiting for fostering to get up to spay and neuter surgery weight and because having a kitten in the house--without adding to our already high number of cats (3)--is so much fun, I was planning on continuing to foster anyways. There were a few litters with moms, a couple groups of 3-4 kittens and a single. I took home the single female brown tabby who seemed to be the healthiest. She has little elf-like ears that look like lynx ears without the tufts and big paws that look polydactyl until you actually count and realize she just has huge toes. The tabby stripes are complete except for a little bit of light brown on her tummy, so she looks very different from our eldest tabby cat, Tora, who has white on his face, paws and tummy. We keep her separate from our other cats and don't let the dog get too close. They already have a very different relationship than he had with the other foster who was fascinated with the dog and whose little butt became an obsession for Gambit. This one is fierce and puffs up when he comes nearby. He fled across the room when she spit at him from four feet away yesterday and Alan said he jumped over the arm of the couch to get away from her later that night. (Is there anything better than seeing a kitten doing the sideways hop, puff up and spit?)
Monday, September 22, 2008
I'm sitting on the couch with my notebook in my lap and a purring kitten on my shoulder. The foster kitten's stay has been extended since he had a few weeks to go before he gets up to neuter surgery weight. It's amazing how fast they change. He's recovering from first worms, then an upper respiratory infection and now a urinary tract infection very quickly. He is now definitely a "he." His eyes are still the blind-looking blue of a very young kitten but he's looking more and more cat-like and less rodent-like with his formerly spreadeagled rear legs, triangular shape shifting to lean kitten legs. One rear leg is little thicker than the other--the vet thought it was either an older injury or congenital--but it doesn't seem to hurt or to be slowing him down at all. This week he learned how to jump and run which is making it a little harder to keep him separate from the resident cats. In the couple accidental encounters we've had, the kitten has gone bounding up to a cat and promptly scared it away. He gets along well with the dog. (After the dog snuck in and raided his litter box a couple of times, we pretty much gave up on the idea of keeping the two of them separate.) The dog is learning boundaries (finally!) and that his larger size means he has to be careful. All of their contact is still monitored constantly. I wanted to name him "Tom" because he's got the same coloring as the cartoon cat. Alan favored "Playa." I'm open to suggestions--keep in mind that the goal is to choose a name that will help get him adopted, although the adopters always have the option to change the name.
It is so nice to have a cuddly cat for a while! We have one who will sit next to us on the couch when the dog isn't around (Kochan the semi-feral) but the other two are hands off (Tora the biter) and pet me on my own terms (Piper the diva). Pictures to come once I get them uploaded.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Our mutual anniversary gift this year was a very geeky Wii, but I think it was a great purchase. I will be using the Wii fit as soon as it arrives in the mail and we've already had some fun with Sports and a new Mario game. We finished the evening off with an episode of The Wire courtesy of Netflicks and then some Mario. I helped Alan by zapping stars which was about all my overstuffed, end of work week self could handle. Today we are going to take the dog for a long walk at one of the local preserves and get some writing done. Perfect weekend!
Monday, September 01, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Tall, dark and handsome Akita is looking for a life and running partner. Likes: long runs/walks on the beach or anywhere, exploring, leaning on a friend, car rides and back scratches. Dislikes: kennels and locks. References available upon request.
[P.S. No more wearing sandals until Kaden is adopted.]
Monday, August 18, 2008
I saw my first (and second and third) botfly larva removed from the neck of a poor little kitten. They were crazy big and one of the creepiest things I've ever seen. They had to be the inspiration for The Wrath of Kahn.
I got called back to the shelter just before close one night to try to help with a kitten who had gotten its head stuck in the bottom of a cage while hiding after a customer set it on the floor. Removal involved dismantling a whole bank of cages but the kitten came out just fine and was placed on hold that night and adopted the next day. A volunteer and I managed to get the cages put back together and didn't even misplace a single screw!
I named two kitten brothers Bo and Luke after which one of the vet techs immediately apologized to them. Choosing names on the spur of the moment is not easy, even if you are creative! My ice cream flavor theme for a large litter of rats didn't go so well the week before. (Most ice cream flavors are too long for the name box in our computer software.)
I endured a 1/2 hour hot (my air conditioning is out) car ride with a coonhound who I brought back to the shelter after he had donated veterinary surgery to have a mass removed from his foot. Our two large dog kennels were in transit other places so I had to put him in the back seat. He alternated between bashing me in the head with his e-collar, breathing extremely stinky dog breath on me which was concentrated and funnelled into my face by said e-collar and trying to climb into the front seat and onto my lap. Did I mention that this was a coonhound? Not a small dog at all.
I can't really talk much about the hard parts of the job without having this post be a major bummer. Seeing adult cats fly out of the shelter (through adoptions) this summer despite the large numbers of kittens makes all the craziness worth it. Seeing people willing to take in an older cat for foster for six months until things are slower makes it worth it. Seeing happy people go home with animals makes it all worth it. Seeing the excitement in a stray when her family comes to find her, makes it all worth it.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
All late winter into spring, balancing two jobs with too many hours--crazy!
My birthday and the Walk for Animals - set-up (rain, cold, cold, rain) walk day (rain? no, no rain! lots of wonderful dogs, other critters, people, volunteers)
Last day at Rain Taxi (very sad, but I'll still be volunteering for the magazine, check out the latest issue just out!)
New full-time position at the Animal Humane Society (scary, exciting, sad because I love working with the volunteers, but I will be there more and may actually see more volunteers)
Week at Rio Hondo writing workshop (with Alan - New Mexican mountains, snow melt streams, hot tub, amazing food, amazing writers, fuel for revising)
Wiscon (with two of my favorite people in the whole world as guests of honor!)
We have book: The Sun Inside by David J. Schwartz!
Dave has another book! (Reading tomorrow Dreamhaven - Thursday, June 12th, 7:00PM)
Alan sold a novel!
The new job is kicking my butt but I do think I'll have it under control soon. I planted flowers this past week--something I wasn't able to do last summer! After a few months of leaving the house at 8:30 a.m. and not getting back until after 8:30 p.m., I am also enjoying having dinner with my husband and playing ball with Gambit while it's still light out.
Life is good.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Please call your legislators in the next few days.
The “dangerous dog” bills are on the Minnesota House and Senate floors and need your action right away. Please contact your State Representative AND your State Senator and ask them to vote YES on the bills below.
S.F. 2876 authored by Senator Ellen Anderson
H.F. 2906 authored by Representative Michael Paymar
These bills address a real issue relating to dangerous dogs, which is accountability of the people who own the dangerous dog.
H.F. 2906 and S.F. 2876 strengthen existing law by giving animal control authorities the tools they need to better protect the public from dog bites and dog attacks. They address repeat offenders and the culpability of dog owners who endanger the public. They clarify existing language, require the sterilization of dangerous dogs, increase the dollar amount of insurance required (for a victim of a dog attack), provide due process for a dangerous dog designation, provide for prohibiting further dog ownership, and increase penalties for those who create dangerous dogs through irresponsible actions. The maximum penalty is often paid by the dog,
but there are relatively light penalties, if any, placed on the owners.
- Please mention these points when placing your phone call:
- Ask them to support dangerous dog bill S.F. 2876 and H.F. 2906
- Tell them you do NOT support any amendments that would include a dog breed ban in Minnesota.
- The problem is the not the breed of a dog.
Call your State Senator to support S.F. 2876
If you don’t know who your legislators are, go to:
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
The shelter in Woodbury where I work is filled with books as well as animals for the annual Animal Humane Society Book Sale. We're having it at two locations, Woodbury and Golden Valley. The hours are slightly different between the two sales because we had different hours back when they were setting it up. Thursday night is $5 at the door but the rest of the weekend the sale is free. We'll have books, CDs, DVDs, videos and classic vinyl records. It looked liked everything was under $10 and most is priced $1-$5.
Here are the addresses:
Animal Humane Society, 845 Meadow Lane North, Golden Valley and 9785 Hudson Road in Woodbury.
Here are the hours:
Thursday, February 7
5:00 - 8:00 pm
February 8, 9 & 10
Noon - 6 p.m.
Thursday, February 7
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, February 8
11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 9
9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 10
11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.