Bring your own fork

February 15, 2008 - Friday

 …and The Hits Just Keep Coming

Zoe’s little cat Ebi died this morning.

Ebi was a sickly cat from the moment Zoe found her out front, tucked behind the saddlebag of one of my motorcycles. She had some kind nasal obstruction that prevented her from breathing properly, so she could only mouth-breathe and always sounded like she was snoring. Except, for her, snoring was never really an option because she never ever really got to sleep — she had to have her head tilted a certain way to breathe clearly, and if she deviated from that then she simply didn’t breathe. So when she fell asleep and her head drooped, she’d stop breathing, and she’d wake up gasping for air about a minute later. This poor little kitten suffered from extreme sleep apnea her entire life, and she also had developed some kind of mucus build-up thing that made her breathing challenges worse, and it was getting worse and worse toward the end.

And then this morning she choked while eating her breakfast. We feed the cats on top of the washer/dryer and I had just given Ebi her breakfast — a fried egg, because we were trying to find a food that didn’t contribute to the mucus problem. A few minutes later I heard a thud — she had fallen off the dryer and was convulsing on the floor, struggling for air. I tried to give her some kind of mouth-to-mouth, trying both to blow air into her lungs or suck out whatever the obstruction was, but it was no use. She never took a breath and her heartbeat slowly faded and her pupils dilated until she was gone. It was a horrible, horrible way for her to go.

She was a sweet little kitten and deserved a more peaceful end. Watching her go out like that was really hard.

Zoe’s at school now. She’ll be devastated when she gets home and finds out.

Zoe & Ebi
Ebi and Zoe when Ebi was new to us.

Ebi
The last picture we have of Ebi. This is from mid-December.


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December 31, 2007 - Monday

 Goodbye to Billy

We had to put my dog Billy to sleep two weeks ago on Tuesday, December 18. I haven’t been able to write about until now — and, really, I’m not able to write about it yet — but I wanted to mark his passing here before the year passed with him.

We had him for so long that I don’t know exactly how long it was. Billy was a part of our family for longer than Beth and I have been married. We got married in June of ’95 and I think he was still our “new” dog during the Northridge earthquake back in ’94, so he was with us for at least 14 years. That’s a long time no matter what species’ clock you’re using.

Billy was a really good boy, but he did have his idiosyncrasies. He was not a brave dog, for example. He may have been at one time, but the Northridge quake changed all that. That earthquake really did a number on him, totally scrambled his brains. Everything scared him after that. I can remember one time when a drawing Zoe had done at school that we had taped to the refrigerator came loose and slowly wafted to the floor like a leaf on the wind. That paper scared the ever-loving shit out of Billy and he ran as fast as he could to get away from it. Unfortunately, he was on the hardwood floor when this happened, so he ended up running in place like Scooby Doo, claws skittering on the floor as he scrambled madly away from the dangerous toddler crayon artwork, going nowhere fast.

He wasn’t terribly bright, either. He and Suki (another of our dogs) got out of the yard one day and disappeared for several hours. Suki finally showed up at dinnertime, but Billy didn’t come back. So I went out looking for him, riding my bike all through our neighborhood, certain that I was going to find his dead body in the gutter of one of the busy streets surrounding our neighborhood. When I didn’t find him I went to the local animal shelter to see if he was there. And sure enough, there he was, looking sheepish and forlorn and, yes, scared in one of the kennels there.

I didn’t take him home right away, though. You see, I had gotten Billy from the dog pound in the first place, so I sat down there on the ground outside his kennel and we had a little talk about where he wanted to live. I reminded him that I had rescued him from the pound once — and spent quite a bit of money doing so — and now here he was back at the pound again. So he had a decision to make: live with me, or keep coming back to the pound? Because him leaving my perfectly good home to come back to the dog pound made me wonder if he really wanted to stay with us. We sat there and I waited while he thought about it, and I guess he decided he wanted to come home with me because he gave me a Ha ha, really funny, make jokes while I’m in jail, can we just go home now? kind of look. So I bailed him out and took him home again.

Billy also had a particularly disgusting eating habit – his favorite bed-time snack was cat poop. Every night as we were closing the house up for the night, his last stop before lying down on the floor on my side of the bed was at the catbox, where he would root around looking for what we called “kitty truffles.” He’d clean the catbox for us, and then curl up next to the bed with kitty litter still stuck to his nose. He absolutely loved cat shit.

But Billy was getting really old, and the vet thought he probably had liver cancer, and he had really bad arthritis and was always in pain. By the end he’d gotten so bad that he could barely walk and he couldn’t stand up on his own at all. We have hardwood floors through about half the house and he simply could not navigate them at all — he’d slip and fall down and then couldn’t get up. We put carpet runners down to help him with the traction, but he needed our help getting up at the end — he’d just lie there and bark until someone came and picked him up, and then he’d totter off a few steps and fall down again half the time. He simply couldn’t get around on his own anymore, so we knew it was time.

Our vet agreed to come to the house so he wouldn’t have to go through the stress of going to the vet’s office — something that always gave him a lot of stress. We spent our last evening with him pampering him and loving him and cherishing our last moments with him, and we took the pictures below with him that night. When the vet came we all surrounded him and held him and petted him as he went to sleep for the last time. I think he felt safe and loved at the end. I hope he did.

His ashes came back from the pet crematory on Friday, so Billy’s home again. We miss him a lot.

Billy & Zoe

Chuck Beth Billy


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November 8, 2007 - Thursday

 Goodbye to The Dude

We lost one of our cats today — The Dude. We got him from the pound about a year and a half ago (check his arrival here), so we didn’t have him for very long. He was an old guy when we got him, so we knew it was going to be a short time, but I didn’t know it’d be this short.

He’s been losing weight for awhile and getting old and generally just getting more and more decrepit, until this morning when he was in an obvious bad way. I took him to the vet and we put him to sleep this evening. It was kidney failure, we think. The doc was maddeningly vague about his condition and whether or not it was time, but it was pretty clear that putting him to sleep was the right thing to do.

He was a cool dude. He made a place for himself among this madhouse of animals and fit right in. I’m going to miss his insistent tap-tap-tapping at the dinner table as he begged for food, his blatant jumping up on the dinner table when the tapping didn’t work, his falling asleep face down in my lap while watching TV at night, his drooly kisses in bed when he’d want to rub his nose against my mouth and I’d always complain to Beth that “Goddamit, honey, my cat is such a fag!” I’m going to miss The Dude, period. He was my cat and I loved him.

Here’s The Dude with Beth and Zoe this morning when we all pretty much knew how the day would end but we hadn’t taken him to the vet yet.

Goodbye to The Dude

He was loved. He’ll be missed.

Goodbye, Dude.


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December 16, 2006 - Saturday

 Catch A Possum By The Tail

Our dogs Suki and Sammy were barking up a storm in the back yard a little while ago at 1 a.m. and wouldn’t come in when I called, so that could mean just one thing: possum. I went out and looked, and sure enough they had one “cornered” on the fence.

I say “cornered” because it was five feet in the air where they couldn’t reach it and it could have escaped in either direction on the fence or jumped into a tree on the other side, so it had plenty of avenues of escape, but it was frozen in fear. Cornered, as it were. So I shooed the dogs back inside and came out with a camera.

I’ve been telling Zoe a serial bedtime story for the past week or so, making it up as I go along and throwing little bits of our lives into the story and ending each night with a cliffhanger. One of the characters is a possum named Eloise. In tonight’s episode, Eloise is currently at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport being interrogated by Homeland Security agents on suspicion of trespassing, impeding in the operation of a jet, and maybe terrorism. So clearly she’s not here, but that’s not important right now — Zoe’s going to love it when I show her a picture of Eloise in our own back yard.

Eloise

It hadn’t moved an inch in the time it took me to get the dogs back inside, block the dog door, go pee (I really had to go), find the camera, and come back outside. So it was out there in the dark, all alone, free to make its escape for at least five minutes. And it was still there. So it was really scared. But there it was, so I shot a few pictures of it. And it hardly moved while I was taking the pictures, so I took it a step further: I stretched out and grabbed the tip of its tail. No reaction.

It felt like a carrot, sort of. Or maybe a rope. Or a ropey carrot. Whatever, it felt like a possum tail, and if you don’t know what that feels like then I guess you haven’t lived as exciting a life as I have. For I am He Man, Puller of Possum Tails.

After that I figured I had scared it enough, so I went back inside and left it alone.

Ten minutes later Sammy was back out there again, barking her head off again. The possum was still there. Maybe it’s just stupid.


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July 20, 2006 - Thursday

 The View From Pickerington, OH

Greetings from Room 333 of the Hampton Inn Pickering, just outside Columbus, in beautiful Pickerington, Ohio. There isn’t really much to say about Pickerington, or even Ohio, for that matter — I’m just here and I have to get used to it. But I get to go home tomorrow, so I’ve got that going for me.

Thus far my trip has been most notable for my shame at watching tonight (and now reporting it here) America’s Got Talent, hosted by the estimable Regis Philbin. And in the background I’m listening to the “reporters” at Fox “News” jizzing all over themselves with the wet dream that Syria will unleash a hellfire of “weapons of mass destruction” on Israel over the conflict in Lebanon, so clearly my TV viewing choice-making apparatus is completely FUBAR right now. It must be something in the local water supply — that would certainly explain the 2004 election results here.

Anyway, here’s the view:

Pickerington, OH

…and here’s the room:

Pickerington, OH

And just for fun, here’s a picture of Zoe’s (newest) kitten Ebi:

Guitar Solo

And here’s me changing the TV channel to something with a little more intelligence to it: HBO and The 40 Year Old Virgin.


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May 5, 2006 - Friday

 The Dude Abides

We have altogether too many pets. We have three dogs: Billy, Suki, and Sammy. We have 5.5 cats: Sparkle, Cosmo, Wanda, Nina, Oliver, and March, who basically moved out and just lives in the neighborhood now but checks in with us periodically. And we also have a bunch of fish, but fish don’t count because they live in a bowl. So counting the animals that count, we have 8.5 pets. Way too fucking many.

So I’ve put my foot down. Absolutely no more pets. No bunnies, no hamsters, no rats, no snakes, no birds, no more dogs and expecially no more cats. Well, except for this one:

The Dude

Meet our newest cat. His name isn’t locked in yet, but I’m calling him “The Dude” for now because he abides. Other cats? No problem. Dogs? No problem. Sammy the Jack Russell Terrier getting right up in his face and tasting him? No problem. He just sits there purring no matter what happens. As The Stranger said in The Big Lebowski, “The Dude abides.”

I found him at the local pound last Saturday. One of our other cats, Cosmo, disappeared for a few days (as she is wont to do) and I started to have a bad feeling about her being gone, so I went to the shelter to look for her. She wasn’t there (she’s since turned up at home), but The Dude was. And something about him got to me.

His tag said he’s 13 and that his previous owner surrendered him because they were moving and he had a big head and he was really friendly and… I kept thinking about him. 13 years old, a housepet all his life, but now toward the end he was abandoned to the shelter and was going to end his life in a cage. That didn’t sit right with me. So all week long, he’s been on my mind. And yesterday, at 4:45, i said “Fuck it, I’m taking him.” So I left work early, went to the shelter, and adopted him.

So now we have 9.5 pets. And I am absolutely putting my foot down: NO MORE PETS.

I mean it this time.


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December 22, 2005 - Thursday

 I’m Dreaming of a Wired Christmas

Christmas came early for young Chuckie. My job just gave me a new cell phone, the spanky Treo 650, which is an electronic wet dream for a techno-geek like me. It’s a combination cell phone/PDA that does just about everything but laundry. Fortunately, we just got a new washer and dryer, so I’m covered there, too.

In addition to doing duty as a cell phone, the Treo also has a calculator, a calendaring function, chat via Google Talk and Jabber, contacts, tasks, memos, email, web surfing, plays mp3s, and it has a camera. And that’s just what’s installed on it now; there are dozens of other utilities I can download to it. I’m playing with it already. Here’s a picture I took with it of Zoe torturing her cat Nina:

Christmas isn't merry for our cats

And best of all, the company’s paying for it. So now, for free (for me), I can play with a gadget and be reachable by phone and email anywhere and everywhere at any time.

Uh, wait a second. Maybe that’s not so great after all.


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December 19, 2005 - Monday

 A Girl And Her Dog … And Her Washing Machine

Beth’s excited voice rang out across the house Sunday morning: “They’re here! They’re here! Honey, they’re here!!!”

“They” were the delivery guys from Great Indoors, delivering Beth’s new washer and dryer. She’d been shopping and coveting and obsessing and thinking and talking and planning and wishing and dreaming and wanting a new washer and dryer for months, and we had finally pulled the trigger and bought them. And Sunday was D-Day: Delivery Day. She was so excited she was fairly squealing.

Of course there was a problem, though. Doesn’t there always have to be for any dream that comes true, some little bit of tarnish on the gleam of heavenly perfection? Our glitch was that they’d brought the wrong dryer. We ordered the gas model, they delivered the electric model. So back to the store with the wrong one and re-deliver the right one — today, if they are to be believed.

But Beth had been waiting for this day too long to be denied. She may not have had the new dryer, but by God she had a brand new washing machine and she was going to do laundry! (Cue snowstorms in Hell.) And so she did. This is Beth and Suki watching the magic of the new front-loading washer through the handy front-loading viewing port. Beth’s only regret is that it doesn’t have an internal light. Fortunately, she had a flashlight.

It’s a Girl and Her Dog … and Her Washing Machine.


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July 31, 2005 - Sunday

 Lessons Learned

Never leave a Jack Russell Terrier unattended and bored for several hours.


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July 30, 2005 - Saturday

 Breakfast In Bed

Our new dog, Sammy, likes to sleep in bed with us. That’s usually not a problem. Usually. This morning: problem. Gross problem.

Sometime in the night last night, Sammy puked in our bed, right up at head level. And while that might sound disgusting, it’s disgusting on a level above and beyond the disgustingly gross grossness of waking up to a face full of dog puke. Because it wasn’t just random dog puke — it was kitty-litter-snackin’ cat poop dog puke.

Gooooooooood morning!


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