The smellier the treat, the faster Magic came running. His favorites were shaped like miniature t-bone steaks and stunk up the whole kitchen. Every time he heard the bag crinkle, he suddenly appeared before me out of thin air, sitting on his hind legs like a bunny and staring me down with perseverance in his eyes. This ritual was all very cute and fun until one day I noticed the calorie count on the back of the bag. My jaw dropped in shock– there was no way there could possibly be that many calories in one little treat!
My family worked …Read More
After much yowling and hissing with nothing to show for it but a soggy pill and two angry yellow eyes glaring at me from under the bed, I felt both frustrated and guilty for becoming such a kitty bully. I was so scarred by this fiasco that I would have invented any way possible to avoid pill time with Midnight. I tried to hide it in a spoonful of tuna and squished it between two of her favorite treats— but each of these methods only worked for two days before she solved the mystery. Midnight developed a sixth sense for …Read More
My dog Magic loved carpet. With carpet, the possibilities were endless: it provided a convenient way to scratch an itch, a doormat to wipe his feet on after running through a mud puddle, his own giant napkin after dinner time, and the ideal terrain for scooting. Despite our attempts to train Magic and separate him from his carpet infatuation, eventually his black hair seemed to melt into every fiber of it no matter how many times we vacuumed. My family became so fed up with his unsanitary carpet habits that we ripped up all the carpet and replaced it with …Read More
Seventeen years of sharing my life with my cat Midnight has perfectly synced our schedules. Every day we wake up, eat, watch TV, and go to sleep together. If I hit “snooze” too many times, she perches at the foot of my bed and yowls until I wake up. When it’s time for her thyroid medication, she meets me next to the cabinet where her pills are kept. On days I return home later than she expects, I find her waiting under her potted tree with a glare that says I’ve been worried SICK.
Not only is Midnight skilled at memorizing …Read More
On a cold autumn evening in 1999, my cat Midnight was born homeless under somebody’s front porch. As black-cat superstition foretells, the odds were stacked against her from day one—Midnight was also born the tiniest in her family. Fortunately for Midnight, her early struggles gave her a spicy attitude and a scrappy will to survive. Rather than sleeping under a porch, Midnight now claims all of the human beds in my house as her own.
When it became time for her spay surgery shortly after her adoption, my worrisome five-year-old self imagined dozens of worst-case scenarios. I harassed my parents with …Read More
Carey and Tana the malamute strolled along the shore and listened to the crashing waves. Tana relaxed as the cool breeze blew through his thick grey fur… But then he spotted a future friend prancing toward him. Before thinking twice, Tana sprinted toward his new playmate kicking clouds of sand behind him, completely unaware of his power against his leash.
In his eagerness to socialize, Tana ripped his retractable leash out of the handle Carey was white-knuckling. Carey watched in horror for a moment as the little leash flapped in the wind behind Tana. She dropped the useless hunk of plastic …Read More
“Coronavirus?” I took the thick red folder out of my Aunt Susan’s outstretched arm, her brand new kitten Paige on my heels, chasing the long string of yarn that Susan had tied to my belt loop. Susan had adopted Paige only the day before and the animal shelter had sent home a plethora of information about feline coronavirus.
“I’ve never heard of feline coronavirus before”, I remarked as I flipped through the stack of papers, full of words I couldn’t understand or pronounce. “I hadn’t either”. Susan agreed. “But before I signed the adoption papers, even though I had already decided …Read More
On the first hot day of the year, Daisy can always be found lounging on the backyard bench. She is so reluctant to leave the toasty cushions that somebody usually has to go out there and make her come inside before she gets overheated. When she finally does come in, she is always so itchy that she would probably gnaw her paw right off if we let her.
Just like all the human members of my family, Daisy has received the Stringer Curse of agonizing seasonal allergies. While grass seems to be Daisy’s worst trigger, dust and pollen are also common …Read More
Foxy spent her life visiting the horses next door, racing the neighbor’s dogs through the brush, and harassing squirrels who lived in the towering pine trees behind my grandparents’ house. After jumping through leaf piles my cousins and I worked so hard to rake, she would plop down to take a long nap in the sun. She seemed to belong more to Mother Nature than she did to my grandparents, but she always came home for supper.
Love for the outdoors increased Foxy’s risk of exposure to leptospirosis, so my grandparents always made sure she received the yearly vaccine. Without the …Read More
The butter had vanished. But it couldn’t have gone too far, Becca had only left the kitchen for a second. She searched among the assortment of ingredients she had set on the counter in preparation for baking cookies. As she checked under the table, she heard a smacking sound coming from the living room…
Hera the mastiff was laying on top of her massive ottoman in the perfect likeness of a queen who had just polished off an exquisite feast. Becca tried to interrupt her, but both sticks of butter were history. She immediately thought about pancreatitis, which occurs when the …Read More
Magic trotted along the sidewalk as far ahead of me as his leash would allow. He paused, sniffed the grass, and turned around in a little circle. I pulled the plastic clean-up bag out of my pocket in response to this ritual. Once I approached him, his obvious diarrhea told me something was very wrong with his digestion. But Magic didn’t seem too bothered by this gastrointestinal issue. He continued to hold his flag-like tail high as he pranced by the dogs barking at him from behind their fences for the rest of his walk.
Minor gastrointestinal issues were not newsworthy …Read More
The morning forecast had predicted a high of 103 degrees and I could almost see the steam coming off the parking lot from my lunch table by the window. The sun reflected off my Jeep’s windshield which was probably already reaching an oven-like temperature. I thought about my middle school classmate’s science project when he baked cookies on the dashboard of his mom’s car on a summer day like this one.
In the middle of my meal, I noticed a black car parked on the opposite side of the window with a little terrier sitting in the front seat. The 12:00 …Read More
When the time for Midnight’s annual wellness visit rolls around, she treats the entire day like a living nightmare. Once I take the cat crate out of the closet, she immediately darts under the bed and hisses her declaration of war. After I fish her out and attempt to lower her into the crate, she grips all four sides as if her life depends on it. The moment she is placed on the scale, she screeches until the whole city feels her fury. Throughout the drive home, her angry eyes glare at me from behind her own personal prison with …Read More
Finn, a fourteen-year-old cat with chronic renal disease, began subcutaneous fluid treatment to help his body deal with toxins that his kidneys were no longer able to process normally. Subcutaneous, also called subQ for short, means just beneath the skin. SubQ fluid is received through a needle connected to a fluid line (a long, flexible tube) and fluid bag.
In the beginning, Finn’s family were reluctant to begin the treatment and Finn was also understandably stressed by this unusual activity. When it was time for him to receive his fluids, he hid in the very back corner of his mom’s closet …Read More
I stared at the YouTube video on my phone of a cute pig eating a cookie, attempting to distract myself from the heavy dread I felt. I tuned out the irritated meows coming from Midnight’s carrier and tried to believe her blood work results were going to be fine. Even after two years of surprisingly well maintained kidney levels, I knew chronic renal disease is irreversible and worried our days of great blood work could be over.
Once Dr. Bilhartz returned to our exam room with the results, he told me Midnight’s blood work indicated that it was time to consider …Read More
Midnight is only five years younger than I am, so her veterinarian had already warned me about the prevalence of chronic renal disease among senior cats. But while Midnight’s diagnosis was not shocking, that didn’t make the news any easier to hear. Because she had not yet shown any of the symptoms I was watching out for, I hadn’t expected her to develop a kidney problem yet.
Chronic renal disease occurs when a cat’s kidneys become unable to function normally over time. Like Midnight, cats who are in the early stages sometimes don’t show obvious symptoms and the signs only appear …Read More
As my cousin Karen filled out the stack of adoption forms, her new kitten Rose fussed and pushed the sides of the cardboard take-home box so hard Karen feared she would escape. Karen remembered the shelter volunteer’s straightforward warning: “This one’s a terror”. But when they first met, Rose’s baby meow and big adorable eyes made her look like a perfect angel— until she was placed in the box for the trip home. But Karen still insisted on making her part of the family, so the volunteer explained that she should prepare herself to patiently work through some undesirable behaviors. …Read More
My best friend Liz and her Shepherd mix Luna have been a package deal since the day Liz found her at a local rescue. Where Liz goes, Luna enthusiastically follows. But nobody ever minds, because watching Luna hop from person to person and squeeze all one-hundred pounds of herself onto someone’s crushed lap makes every party, movie night, and dinner a hilarious event. While Luna is a charismatic personality to have around, she also knows to do what she is told— for the most part. Every once in a while, Luna falls victim to her guilty pleasure of thievery. If …Read More
Our newly adopted stray Mella was obviously not a member of the feral cat colony which occupied our neighborhood. The feral cats would do anything to avoid humans as much as possible, even if that meant using storm drains as a travel system and only venturing out for food late at night. But Mella purposefully sought human contact— shortly after we found her we learned that most of our neighbors already knew her and had fed her dinner on several occasions. But even though she loved to be near people, she was still more like a bobcat than she was …Read More
Focus on the textbook I reminded myself for the hundredth time. But before I was able to delve back into my study guide, I heard it again: cling cling cling cling cling— the jingling sound Magic’s collar made while he desperately scratched an intense itch. Once he repeated this very loud and exhausting routine, I slammed my book shut in frustration and abandoned my homework pile to find him.
Upon entering the living room where Magic’s favorite bed was kept, I found he had tied himself into a dog pretzel, vigorously gnawing a spot above his tail. I parted his fur …Read More
Lilies were once one of my favorite flowers, but I have now banned them from my house after learning they place my cat Midnight’s health at risk. Midnight and I are very lucky that she never nibbled the cut lilies I used to keep on the coffee table, because even a small snack could have threatened her life.
While it is still unknown what exactly causes lilies to be so toxic to cats, it is certain that eating any part of the plant such as the leaves, flowers, pollen, or vase water will cause kidney failure and death if untreated. Fortunately …Read More
My dog Magic’s nails dug into my leg as he hopped up and down to get a better look at the smiling Golden Retriever hanging her head out the car window in the left lane. “Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop!” I chanted while I desperately clutched the wheel with two fingers and nudged him toward the passenger seat. But he was already back in my lap and perched on his hind legs— for some reason beyond human understanding the view from the other window was unsatisfactory. “I’m still not rolling the window down,” I reminded him. “You don’t want to get …Read More
It only took Magic a couple days after his adoption to prove that he got along great with humans. He was gentle with children who wanted to pet him, automatically trusted anyone with a house key, and loved to swing in the hammock with my friends. Trying to predict how he would behave around my cat Midnight was a different story. But as a small scruffy mutt who was already missing most of his teeth, he certainly didn’t look like a cat killer.
My family kept Magic and Midnight separated at first by confining them to different areas of the house. …Read More
At 1:00 in the morning, the movie I had been watching was suddenly interrupted by a very loud baby crying outside my window. Upon hurriedly opening my front door, I realized the sound was not not made by a baby, but by the emaciated, desperate, stray cat springing out of the bushes and screaming for dinner.
I first locked Midnight, my own cat, safely away in my bedroom to protect her from this unknown cat’s possible sickness or aggression. I then brought my new acquaintance into the kitchen for some food and water. While my first thought was to give her …Read More
As Mom and I looked inside each kennel at our local animal shelter, the decision before us became increasingly difficult— every dog needed love just as much as the last one. In the small dog area, we spotted a little scruffy mutt. His hair was so long and matted he looked like a black and white mop, but beneath his rat’s nest his bright blue eye and deep brown eye sparkled when he saw us. We sat with him in a little room with a bench, and he sprung onto my lap so everyone could have the opportunity to pet …Read More
As my dog Magic aged, he became less like the carefree spirit we had adopted and instead grew quite irritable. In his younger years he was cheerful rather than crotchety, but as his fur began to gray and his fuse shortened, he seemed more like an old man character one would see in a movie shouting, “You kids get off my property!” His short fuse also applied to his occasional minor health problems as he easily became consumed by small discomforts.
One morning after a walk I found Magic laying in his bed and licking his paw so intensely he hardly …Read More
Around my house, the exclamation “Magic stinks!” was not uncommon. Every dog has an unpleasant habit or two, but Magic’s most beloved hobbies were really gross. In his eyes, the cat’s litter box was an all you can eat buffet, a rotten dead squirrel was a rare treasure, and a smelly running shoe was the perfect air freshener. Anytime he disappeared somewhere in the house or backyard for a suspiciously long time, he always returned with a big smile and an unbearable stench.
But one day, this stench was different– but it definitely still made my nose burn. And not only …Read More