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To veg or not to veg…

I’ve gone 20 years now without eating meat.  A fact that I thought was pretty well-known.  It appears that I was mistaken – it’s been pretty frequent that a friend or coworker has found out, and the look of shock on their face is priceless!  Maybe it’s because I’m not the stereotypical vegetarian.  I don’t care what other people eat, I don’t try to guilt trip people into giving up meat, and I don’t even care if my veggie burger is cooked on the same grill as someone else’s hamburger.

I gave up meat the summer before my 10th birthday, immediately following a family party that involved a pig roast.  The house that we were at was on a farm, and I spent the majority of my day playing with the animals.  I was so happy!  Imagine my complete horror when one of the pigs was shot, killed, and cooked in front of my eyes.  I remember throwing up on the spot and I threw such a tantrum that my parents were forced to leave the party to take me home.  I couldn’t believe what I had just saw!  I was young, and it had never occurred to me what I was putting in my mouth every time I ate a hamburger, chicken nuggets, pepperoni…etc.  I understood where fish came from – and living on the lake, I grew up associating fish with the smell of the dead rotting fish that we’re blessed with smelling on hot summer days.  Fish had been something that I was never fond of.  But it never crossed my mind that every time I had a strip of bacon, it came from an innocent pig.  That a pig had to die so that I could eat.  I was mortified.

When someone first finds out that I don’t eat meat, I always prepare for backlash.  However, while it has definitely happened more often than not, recently I’ve found that the people I surround myself with are pretty great.  Instead of going on and on about how they could never leave with meat, etc; I’ve had several friends express interest in trying out some recipes!  Not to go vegetarian themselves, but simply to expand their own horizons.  I always come prepared with a veggie dish to picnics and parties, but I’ve been so pleasantly surprised lately by the number of meat free dishes that are already there!

As I’m sure I mentioned before, I am a terrible cook.  Just awful.  One day I WILL teach myself how; but for now…if I made something, you probably don’t want to eat it.  Shea, a childhood friend of mine, is the complete opposite.  I follow her blog drooling over her delicious, vegan meals.  For those looking to try out a meal or two, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out her page!  Let me know what you think!

It’’s almost effortless these days to find yummy, healthy vegetarian foods.  Just about any restaurant you go to has some sort of vegetarian option.  Even fast food places are jumping on board – Burger King carries veggie burgers, and Taco Bell even has an entire vegetarian menu on their app!  I do eat dairy products and occasionally eggs, so it is easier for me to find things to eat when I’m out than it is for someone who is a strict vegan.  Eventually I plan on going fully vegan…I just have to kick my love of cheese to the curb somehow.  I heard somewhere that cheese is addictive, and I really believe that to be true!

Just a word of warning before I end for today… For vegetarian pet parents out there, it may be tempting to try to convert your pet as well.  It makes sense.  If you feel strongly enough about it from a health, political, or ethical stand point, it completely makes sense that you might want the same for your pets.  Be VERY careful with this, only switching their diets under the strict care of your veterinarian.

Unlike humans, most animals NEED animal protein.  Here’s what Cornell University says on the subject –

“It means that cats are strict carnivores that rely on nutrients in animal tissue to meet their specific nutritional requirements. In their natural habitat, cats are hunters that consume prey high in protein with moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates.”

Dogs can digest and absorb vegetable protein better, but it’s still not usually suggested to switch them away from a meat-based diet.  That being said, there ARE vegetarian dog foods out there, especially those designed for dogs with allergies.  I also know of a handful of people who home cook for their dogs – some vegetarian, some not.  Dogs need a balanced diet, which can be tricky to ensure if you are cooking for them at home.  Again, I can’t stress enough that before making the decision to stop giving your dog meat, PLEASE consult with your veterinarian.

petlossbuddy

They Say Time Heals All Wounds..

“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.”
— Marilyn Monroe

 People love their pets, and most consider them part of the family.  However, I am always surprised to learn how many people give the standard “it’s just a pet” line to someone grieving the loss of their beloved animal.  As if that’s something that will help the other person move on.  Could you imagine saying that to someone who lost a different family member?  “It’s just a kid”.  “It’s just your mother”.  I would hope not.  So why do so many people think that a dog, cat, etc isn’t as worthy of such grief as a human is?   The world around me simply does not understand that Buddy was not “just a dog” and that I cannot “just get a new one.”

It got me thinking… Today marks 3 months since Buddy passed on to the Rainbow Bridge.  The grief I feel for him is still so raw.  I don’t think a single day has gone by yet that something hasn’t reminded me of him and forced me to fight back tears.  More often than not, I wind up on the losing side of that fight.  The callous way some people approach the subject of pet loss made me wonder – Am I doing something wrong?  Am I not grieving properly?  Is that even such a thing?

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Realistically, I know better than that.  I treat my pets as if they were my biological children.  I celebrate their birthdays, confide in them when I need someone to talk to, carry pictures of them in my wallet.  I have more photos of them on my phone than I do of anyone or anything else.  So I can only assume that it’s natural that I would feel more intense grief than someone who viewed their dog as just that…a dog.  I know that the grieving process is unique to each and every individual person.  For some it may only last a matter of days, for others the grief may feel overwhelming for weeks, months, maybe even years later.

So what helps us to move through the period of mourning, to get to a point where you can remember your beloved fur babies with smiles instead of tears?  For me, knowing that I work with some of the most incredible people in the world, who understand exactly how I am feeling definitely helps.  They have lost their own pets, deal with the loss of loved patients almost daily, and most importantly for me at the moment…I know that they loved Buddy just as much as I did.  It really helps knowing that when I’m at my wits end and don’t think that I can pull myself together for the remainder of the day without breaking down, that they get it.  That I can talk to them and they won’t judge me.  That they would NEVER throw out the “it’s just a dog!” line, because they are exactly like me when it comes to loving their animals…loving their furry children.

petlossbuddy

I also like to create little memorials for my pets.  I have their ashes and paw prints close at hand, and pictures all over of them.  It’s hard when looking at them still brings me to tears, but as time goes on, I can look at the photos and smile…knowing that as long as they are in my heart, they will always be with me.  The memorial that was made for Buddy at the animal hospital is absolutely perfect.  I sneak away fairly often to visit him here and talk to him.  I can’t leave at the end of the day without stopping to say goodnight to him.  Looking at his face in this picture brings me to tears every time.  It’s just such a perfect capture of his personality and spirit.  He was always SO happy, and you could always see in his eyes how much he loved you.  How much he loved EVERYONE.

grief

Ever since I was little, I have chosen to believe that shooting stars are a way that loved ones let you know that they are still there watching over you.  My Grandpa was the most important person in the world to me growing up…I lost him when I was 10.  Each year on his birthday there is a meteor shower (Geminids).  The night that one of my best friends was killed there was the Perseids meteor shower.  Each year it falls on/around the day I lost him.  When I’m having a particularly rough night, I will always go outside for a walk, look up at the sky, and talk to one of the people or pets that I have lost.  Almost always, I’ll see at least one shooting star before I make it back home.  Even if in reality it may just be a coincidence, it makes me feel better.  It makes me feel as though the person/pet I was talking to heard me, and that it was their way of responding.  Maybe it’s a silly thing to believe in, but honestly…I don’t care.

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OreoHappyMothersDay

Warm Wishes For Mother’s Day!

“Happiness is a warm puppy.”
Charles M. Schulz

BurgerMothersDay

“Mother’s Day” Question:
How do you feel about people making the statement that they are their pet’s “Mommy” or “Daddy”?

I saw an article written not too long ago shaming people who referred to animals as their children.  To be honest – that post made me see red.  It is my choice (and that of others) to refer to our pets as family members.  Pets are not just something that you throw in a closet when you’re not paying attention to them.  They are not toys.  They are not there to be paid attention to only when it is convenient for you.  They have feelings.  They rely on you for food, shelter, entertainment, and most importantly…for love.  Just like children, pets require your attention and your money.  Some people can’t have human children, and some people just don’t want them.  I honestly don’t think I could ever love a human child as much as I love my dog.  I am a GREAT pet mom…but I think I would be a TERRIBLE human mom.

So, why is it that people take it upon themselves to be upset about what others choose to refer to their pets as?  Why does it bother you that there are humans out there that care enough about their pets to call them their kids?

Anyway.

Pet Moms can feel a bit left out when it comes to Mother’s Day.  I mean, it’s not like your cat or dog supposed to sneak out of the house to buy us a gift or card!  And no one has ever said, “Happy Mother’s Day mom, I love you!”   But then I got to thinking…  it seems as though Hallmark had to create a holiday to ensure that kids remembered to thank their moms and show their love and appreciation at least once a year.  Dogs and cats do that EVERY day!  When was the last time a human child greeted you at the door, so happy to see you that his entire body was vibrating with joy?  And cats don’t need a reminder to cuddle up next to you, kneading your shoulder while purring in your ear.  So while cards and gifts are nice (and yes, I bought my mom both!), maybe pet Moms are the luckier of the bunch.  The tinge of loneliness and the feeling of being forgotton on Mother’s Day is all in my head, afterall.  All I need to remember is the devotion and affection my furry babies show to me each and every day.

Perhaps one of the biggest perks of having only furry children is that I never have to deal with the sudden outbursts.  They don’t yell things like “I hate you” or “I wish you weren’t my Mom”.   Of course, our dogs aren’t going to take care of us when we’re old, so there’s that significant downside. However, with all the money we’re saving from not having kids, we should hopefully be able to save up for a home in a nice retirement community!

The lifespan of dogs and cats is short, just a flicker, compared to a human.  While during those few short years there are plenty of ups (puppy breath!  catnip play time!) and downs (illnesses and injuries), I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I know that one day the pets I have now will leave me just as the ones before them did…leaving a huge hole in what used to be a whole heart.  I try to make the best of every day with them, because I never know when they will be too old to want to go for a walk, or too sick to want to chase the laser pointer.  The saying that “a parent should never have to outlive their child” unfortunately does not get to apply to pet Moms and Dads.  Take advantage of the time you have, every day.  Make sure to spoil Fido with extra long walks and plenty of dogbones, and keep a fresh supply of cat scratchers and cardboard boxes in stock for Fluffy.

I’ll be working on the bucket list that I made for Oreo very soon.  Photos and stories to come.  I’m trying to come up with one for Burger as well; but thinking of exciting adventures to go on and goodies to try for a kitty isn’t half as easy as it is to come up with for a pup!

Until next time — Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Moms out there – both with furry and non-furry kids!

oreo buddy

Wordless Wednesday – Buddy and Oreo

Tribute To A Best Friend
“Sunlight streams through a window pane
unto a spot on the floor….
then I remember,
it’s where you used to lie,
…but now you are no more.
Our feet walk down a hall of carpet,
and muted echoes sound….
then I remember,
It’s where your paws would joyously abound.
A voice is heard along the road,
and up beyond the hill,
then I remember it can’t be yours….
your golden voice is still.
But I’ll take that vacant spot of floor
and empty muted hall
and lay them with the absent voice
and unused dish along the wall.
I’ll wrap these treasured memorials
in a blanket of my love
and keep them for my best friend
until we meet above.”

It’s little moments like this that I miss the most.  Can’t believe that Friday will be two months since you left us.  Missing you so much today, Buddy 🙁

A photo posted by BURGER (@burgerthekitty) on

l'amor

L’Amour

“He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”
Immanuel Kant

Part of being a crazy pet mom is the duty of spoiling your pets rotten.  Unfortunately, with spoiling comes spending money, and money does not grow on any trees by my house.  Since starting this blog, I’ve reached out to a few companies for pet related freebies to try out, and I’ve been lucky enough to hear back from a few of them!  The first product I received was Salmon Oil.  You can click on the link to see my review of it on Amazon, but to make a long story short – it seemed to be a pretty big hit in my house.  I started mixing it in with Oreo’s normal food while we were in Philly.  I put a squirt in his food every morning, and he happily would chow down.  After the first time he tried it, Oreo gave me 5 fishy kisses and a bunch of fur on my new pants as a thank you.  Unfortunately, the packaging on the bottle wasn’t that great, and it didn’t survive the car ride home.  Now I’m dealing with the fun problem of trying to figure out how to make my car stop smelling like fish!  Thank goodness it’s warming up enough outside for me to drive around with my windows down.

When we got home, the cats LOVED ME.  Or more specifically, my luggage…which the aformentioned Salmon Oil happened to spill all over.  Kitten Little was so excited that he couldn’t contain himself!  My normally quiet kitty started singing me a love song (it went MEOWW AAARWW OOORRAOW MEW) while circling around my suitcase, making sure to sniff and lick every angle.  When he was finished, he continued to show his gratitude by gifting me a hairball he personally created.

Burger is my little Romeo. Shortly after sniffing the spilled salmon oil, he wooed me with shockingly loud purrs, and began kneading me with all of his might. Then, when I was relaxed and unexpecting, he latched onto my lip with his claw; getting it stuck in the process.  Remember kids – Romeo and Juliet isn’t the greatest example of a love story…it essentially was nothing more than a passion-fueled temper-tantrum.  Apparently, Burger was keen on making sure that I remembered that.  No more fishy oil for him, if that’s the thanks I get!

I can only hope to someday be able to repay even a little bit of the love and joy these little guys bring me.

Hopefully the next product I review will be a little less painful for me (my poor lip!).  Until next time…

<3

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Puppy breath and CyberKnife

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
— James Herriot

Last night I was curled in my hotel bed, dreaming that Stephen Amell was whispering sweet nothings into my ear. I turned my head to him and smiled.  I leaned in and said “Wow!  …Did you eat anchovies last night?” He just stared at me, panting, until I open my eyes and realized it was just Oreo blowing his dog-breath into my face.

I hadn’t realized how bad Oreo’s icky breath was getting!  To be fair, I’ve smelled worse.  MUCH worse.  And I know that I’m mostly to blame for the state of his breath.  As a responsible pet owner, I should be brushing his teeth every day.  However, in Oreo’s case…that is easier said than done!  So, on my way back from dropping him off for his CyberKnife treatment this morning, I stopped at a pet store and picked up all of the dental health chews and treats I could find.  On that note…he has a history of not liking them, so I might have a good supply of treats in need of a new home pretty soon!

It was a needed reminder that Oreo is due for a routine dental cleaning.  It was something that I had planned to take care of last year, but wound up having to spend a huge chunk of cash on a major surgery for him instead.  That surgery was actually one year ago today!  No biggie, I thought.  I can always take care of it this year!  But surprise surprise, his cancer treatments this year are costing me even more than his surgery last year did.  So yet again, for now, his teeth cleaning is going to have to be put off for a bit longer.  Hopefully I’ll somehow be able to save enough to get it taken care of by the end of the year.  No matter how stinky his breath gets, I’ll always happily accept puppy kisses…but I’d love for it to be just a bittttt less icky!

Anyway.

Oreo and I are currently in Malven, PA – a suburb of Philly.  We arrived Monday, and thanks to some wonderful Acepromazine, our 5.5 hour ride in snowy weather wasn’t too awful.  I think I panicked more than he did for the ride – I got stuck on a highway stretch that was so foggy I couldn’t see ANYTHING.  I slowed down so much and was holding my breath that I didn’t hit anything…and that a car wouldn’t hit me from behind for going so much under the speed limit.  That was the worst fog I’ve ever seen – and on a 65mph road, at that!  All worked out well, but I still pulled over at the next rest stop to regain some composure.  Oreo stayed asleep most of the ride, waking up every now and then to look around, then readjust his position and fall right back asleep.

Our hotel is GORGEOUS…but insanely expensive!  If I could afford it, this is totally someplace that I would want to move in to.  It’s pet-friendly, Oreo has met a  ton of dogs.  And he’s done GREAT with all of them!  He has never been aggressive towards another dog, but he’ll get very anxious and barky and scare the other dogs owners a lot of times…but not once on this trip.  Every dog he’s met in the hotel and in the veterinary hospital he has absolutely loved.

Tuesday he had his CT scan.  The doctor said that he did really well. They were able to see the tumor – she said it’s currently small-to-moderate sized, invading mainly one nostril. There’s a part of it that’s pushing on his brain, but doesn’t seem to have invaded his brain at this point. She’s confident that the CyberKnife will be able to get all of the tumor. After that it’s just keeping our fingers crossed that it stays gone.  He had his first session yesterday, and second today.  He recovered from both very well; although he’s been very very sleepy.  Tomorrow is his last radiation session, after which his vet will give me another update and set up a plan for the future.  Saturday we’ll be heading home.

I’m excited to get home just to see Burger.  I haven’t been away from him for more than 12 hours since he got sick 2 years ago.  My parents are watching him, and have said that he’s doing pretty good; but he hasn’t had a bowel movement since I left.  That’s not abnormal for him, but it still makes me nervous just because I’m not there with him.

I’ve been trying to make the most of the time I have down here while Oreo’s hospitalized.  Tuesday I spent WAY too much time in the Wegmans by my hotel.  It’s HUGE and super fancy.  I’m used to my humble little Latta rd Wegmans!  I also went a bit crazy at the salad bar.  Apparently it was an “organic” salad bar…which I found out when I checked my receipt and saw that I had spent $28 on salad alone!

Yesterday I had Rita’s Water Ice.  Holy crap it was AMAZING.  I had the Cookies N Creme flavor, and inhaled it.  I definitely need to get more before I go back home – although I was THRILLED to find out that there’s a Rita’s in Brighton!  I may have found my new favorite spot.

Today I dropped him off then came back to the hotel to shower…after the shower I took an accidental nap that lasted 4 hours!  I had wanted to explore a bit to try to find a salon at some point – I need something done with my awful hair asap.  But instead, I stopped by a bar called Mckenzie Brew House.  They brew all of their beer there, which I didn’t know as I ordered a Guinness.  The bartender suggested I get the “Leather & chrome nitro milk stout”, which tasted like a chocolate/peanut butter/Guinness mixture.  It was delicious!  I also got their brocolli, mushroom mac and cheese which was also phenominal.

Tomorrow I drop Oreo off again at 7am…hopefully I’ll find some sort of salon instead of taking another accidental nap!

<3

Born to be a Pet Mom

“No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens.”Abraham Lincoln

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I often say that at almost 30 years of age, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  That’s not *quite* true.  While some kids may have dreamt of becoming a vet, a ballerina, or even a port-a-potty maintenance man; I always dreamt of staying home snuggling my pets day in and day out.  And to be honest, not much has changed.  Getting out of bed every morning wouldn’t be nearly as hard if there wasn’t always at least one dog and one cat cuddled upi next to me, begging me to stay put for just oneeee more minute.

Unfortunately for me, being a stay at home pet mom doesn’t seem to offer a lot of opportunity for growth…or for income.  So instead, I’ve been doing the next best thing – for the past 6+ years I’ve been employed at an amazing veterinary hospital.  While it’s not QUITE the same as being at home in my pajamas with my own pets, it is pretty nice to go to work every day knowing that you’ll be covered in slobber from at least one dog and – if you’re lucky – maybe even receive a friendly headbutt from a kitty as well.  I’ve also been lucky enough over the past few years to dabble in pet-sitting.  That hobby is even closer to my ultimate full-time-pet-mom goal – I get paid to stay at OTHER peoples homes and snuggle their animals PLUS my animals while not getting out of pajamas all day.  One step at a time, I guess.

Years ago, when I was first starting out in the animal field, the one thing I thought I would hate about working at an animal hospital was dealing with the owners.  Give me a cranky cat or bitey dog any day, but trying to connect with the person attached to the other end of the leash seemed a lot more challenging.  After all, I’ve always been more of an animal person than a people person.  But strangely enough, that turned out to be the part I liked the best!  Well…maybe second best…I don’t know if anything can top puppy kisses.  I have a really, really cool job.  I get to meet all sorts of people who have one very important thing in common – a love for their animals.  The daunting task of customer service suddenly wasn’t so scary any more.  I found myself getting excited when I saw certain names popping up on the schedule; I built close relationships with a lot of the clients – and some of those clients have turned in to my personal friends over the years.  And as I became more comfortable in my own skin and started to feel like I was finally fitting in, I truly started to come out of my shell.  If I couldn’t be a stay at home pet mom, working in customer service didn’t seem like too bad of an alternative.  Over the past few months, I have even started to branch out a bit!  I’m still working at an animal hospital (they’re stuck with me – I’m a lifer!), but my newfound confidence in my customer service abilities gave me the courage to spread my wings a bit.  I applied to, and got hired at (!) a pretty well known bank this past January!  But that’s a story for a different day.

So…who knows how the rest of this tale will unfold.  Maybe some day I’ll reach stay at home pet mom paradise!  But for now, getting paid to love other peoples animals isn’t such a bad gig.  Who would have guessed?

Fuck Cancer

 

“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever – in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog.”
– Gene Hill

972

 

My worst nightmare officially came true.

Last Friday, Oreo met with a specialist to be sedated and have a nasal scope.  While they were scoping, they officially found a pretty big nasal tumor.  It was biopsied and debulked.  It was a pretty rough weekend for him – I don’t think he was in too much pain thanks to some awesome pain meds, but he was swollen and sneezy and congested.  He bled a lot that first night, and then over the weekend would sneeze blood clots fairly often.  He would look so ashamed and try to “bury” the blood into the floor to cover it up!  By Monday, he was luckily feeling much better, and today is completely back to his normal self, aside from some reverse sneezing.

The biopsy results came back with the diagnosis of a nasal adenocarcinoma.  It is a very aggressive, scary cancer; but the one bright side of it is that it tends to stay localized and not spread to other parts of the body.

I feel like with all of the reading I’m doing I could write my own book on various cancer symptoms, diagnosis’ and treatments!  I’ve gone down several internet “wormholes” tying to find as much information as I can…and more importantly, as much reassurance as I can.  I’ve found several sites for people who have dogs or cats who were successfully treated for nasal tumors and are still living and still happy!  Of course, many other stories aren’t as happy…but I’m really trying to only focus on the positive outcomes.

I called and left a message with Hope Veterinary Specialists to schedule Oreo an appointment for their Cyberknife treatment.  I am hoping to have it done the first full week of April.  I just want it over and done with; and I hope and pray that he will be one of the very few dogs that the cancer never returns.

For right now, Oreo is his normal, happy self.  He’s extra excited for his walks, taking his time to stop and pee on EVERYTHING!  His sense of smell must be so much better now – the tumor was blocking his entire right nasal passage and a lot of the left side as well.  I know how it feels to be able to smell again after being sick and having a stuffy nose – I imagine that’s kind of how he feels, with his extra-sensitive nose going into scent hyperdrive!

I think that’s it for now…it’s time for Oreo and I to get some sleep!  For those going out tomorrow – enjoy the St.Patricks Day festivities, STAY SAFE, and have a Guinness for me!

<3

Hello world!

“It’s difficult to understand why people don’t realize that pets are gifts to mankind.”
— Linda Blair

Hello!

I’m Amy, and by definition, I am a “crazy pet lady”.  I have 2 amazing dogs (Oreo and Buddy) and 4 lovely cats (Burger, Cinder, Dium and Lily).

There is never a dull moment in my life thanks to them!!  I’ve been thinking about making a blog for awhile now, but with one of my brood having some potentially VERY serious health issues, I figured now would be a great time to start.

At worst, I’ll have a place to write down all of the feelings and emotions I go through as we (hopefully) conquor Oreo’s health scare.  At best, maybe I’ll meet new friends – possibly even people who have gone through similar situations.  Maybe I’ll even find someone out there just as crazy as me 🙂

Stay tuned..there’s a long ride ahead.

Buddy