Be Careful What You Put In Your Mouth

Yesterday was an interesting day. I was having a real chocolate craving so my boyfriend was kind enough to buy me a huge bar of Galaxy. It is such a lovely, creamy chocolate and for some reason does not set off my Lactose Intolerance so it is very much my guilty pleasure. I started to work on it but it was getting a little sickly so I left it on the side of the sofa. I then forgot about it and left the room to tidy up my bedroom. Big mistake. We had been in the bedroom for about 10 minutes when we heard Khaleesi barking and growling. My boyfriend went downstairs and brought up an eaten bar and a chocolate smeared throw.

Now as most of you know chocolate contains Theobromine which, depending on the dose, can be lethal. My dogs are 3 and 2 kilos respectively and as I didn’t recall how much chocolate I had left I rang the vets to get their advice. After 5 minutes going over the weight of the bar, how many pieces I think they ate and how long ago it was decided they had to be seen straight away so vomiting could be induced.

We took them to the vets and Murphy’s Law was in full effect as the only vet Khaleesi hates and attacks was the one we saw. All I could do was laugh and turn to Khaleesi to say “Well this is going to do nothing for your relationship is it?”. She took them around the back to give them an injection to induce vomiting whilst my boyfriend and I did something far more enjoyable, enjoy a lovely Costa.

Thirty minutes later we returned and the Vet Nurse explained that Loki had been the naughty one (although she confused me by calling him Khaleesi). Loki had thrown up the whole bar whilst Khaleesi’s stomach was empty. They offered to show me a picture of the sick, which I passed on, and £101 later I was on my way with a bag of charcoal and two traumatised dogs.

That was one expensive chocolate bar…

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Coming back from the vets feeling very sorry for themselves.

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A Sheltered Life

Io is now almost a year old and her personality is almost fully developed. She is a very solitary, nervous cat who will only be stroked if it is under her terms.

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When we first got her she took to sleeping and living in our bedroom. She would only venture out if she needed water, the toilet or if it was time for dinner. This was OK by me as she never caused us too much trouble and we’d often forget she was in there. However, I came home from work one day to find she had been to the toilet on the bed. I cleaned it up and didn’t think much of it, as she was young and they tend to have accidents. That was until she did it again the next day. I decided then to lock her out of the bedroom and, begrudgingly, make it a cat free zone.

With the bedroom out of bounds she started living under the bath. Our bath panel is old and ill fitted so there is a small, kitten sized gap in the corner. She took to sleeping and playing under there 23 hours out of the day. As far as I could smell she didn’t toilet under there so I let her be.

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Unfortunately, as she grew the gap didn’t and in the end the bath panel fell off. Thankfully it was easy enough to fix so it soon went back on. Over the next month a vicious cycle of Io breaking and me fixing it began, but it was a small price to pay for my cat’s happiness. That was until last week.

After a particularly boring day at work I came home and let the dogs out, like any other day. I pottered around the house and went to the toilet. I was met with a putrid sewage smell and as this particular bathroom is not used by my partner I knew it was not due to any human waste. I sighed and as I knew what I would find when I pulled the bath panel out I chose to wait for my partner to come home so we could face this demon together.

When I pulled the panel out the smell almost knocked me to the floor. I have an iron cast stomach but this almost made me retch. I got on my hands and knees, held my breath and faced the ‘Golgothan’.

Io, it appeared, had been a little under the weather and had a bout of diarrhoea. Unfortunately, she had decided to go right at the back near the wall where it was near impossible for me to reach. I had to get a brush and push it towards me, but it just ended up all over the brush. Cue my boyfriend running out of the bathroom screaming and me left to deal with not only the mess, but the worst smell my senses have ever had to deal with (and I’ve had to deal with maggot infested carrion).

I mustered the courage, womaned up and after half a bottle of bleach, shake n vac, a vacuum bag and a lot if Frebreze, the smell has finally gone and the bathroom is now a cat free zone.

Io spent a few days trying to get back into both the bathroom and the bedroom, but now she has taken to living under the living room chair. Once again she spends hours under it, either she is to afraid to venture out or she just doesn’t like company. All in all she is a very strange cat, but the big she was normal she wouldn’t fit in with the Hoard. At least if she decides to poop where she lives it will be a lot easier to clean than underneath a bath on highly absorbent wood chip flooring.

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The Circle of Life

Owning animals is one of the most rewarding things a human being can do, but the reward is often bitter sweet. For you see when one chooses to have children they find comfort in the knowledge that, barring unforeseen, horrific circumstances, they will outlive you. This is the natural order of the world and we are comfortable with this – hence why we feel a great sadness and injustice when we read about children passing. It is alien to us as no parent should ever outlive their child as they are our legacy

For people with pets it is different, we live knowing that the day will come where, to our animals, the stairs will turn into an impassable mountain; the short walk around the block will turn into a marathon; the colour will fades from their coats and the spark in their eye will dull. In the blink of an eye where once stood the young pup/kit/kitten stands a weary, grey geriatric animal whose gaze drifts to the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ ahead of them.

If we are lucky our beloved pet will choose their own time to cross, safe and secure in their own home with their family. Unfortunately, it does not always happen that way. More often than not they will begin to fade and we will have to make the hardest decision any human can make in their life – we have to decide when it is time to say goodbye. We have to be brave and strong for them even though our hearts are breaking and show them the unconditional love they have devoted their lives giving to us.

It amazes me that somehow, somewhere we find this courage. We hold them tighter for the last few days, curse ourselves for not taking enough photos or ignoring them when we had had a busy day. We torment ourselves thinking what we could have done differently and whether we actually gave them a good life. We cry when they are not looking and try to be brave, but they sense that something is wrong and even in their last moments they want to comfort you, to tell you it is OK and whatever you need to do it is OK to do it. Finally they give you a look letting you know it is time and you make that journey. All you want is for time to stand still but the car ride is a lot quicker than you remember. You irrationally curse them for nuzzling their way into your life, your heart, your family knowing that you would outlive them. You then say goodbye and in a blink, it is done, and you make the lonely journey back home to an empty house.

Then you do something that is truly astonishing. When the time is right you go out and repeat the process – we allow them into our lives, our hearts, our families, knowing all too well that years down the line we will be faced with the same trauma again. Do we do this out of some masochistic need to torment our souls? No. We do it because we know the despair we feel when they are gone pales in comparison to the joy they bring us when they are on this world and the memories they leave behind.

So I dedicate this to all the animals who I have had the privilege of sharing my life with:

CasperCasper the Border Collie Cross – 1996-2006
Jessica
Jessica the Belgian Hare Cross – d. 2013

Boris

Boris the Russian Hamster – d. 2011

Genghis

Genghis the Robo. Hamster – d. 2011

Vladimir

Vladimir the Russian Hamster – d. 2012

Xavier & MarvelXavier & Marvel

Xavier & Wolverine

Xavier & Wolverine

Storm & Shadowcat

Storm & Shadowcat

Beady the Crimson Rosella – 2001-2011