Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Lady and Lucky are not allowed up on the furniture - they are just too hairy (see Sunday's post!). However, this does not stop them from sneaking up onto a sofa or bed if the opportunity presents itself. Usually the culprit is Lady, and she is sneaky with a capital "S." Generally the only way you know she's been up on the furniture is when you hear a suspicious "thud" on the floor as you're coming up the stairs, and then you find a dog shaped indentation on the bed. On this particular day, I was vacuuming, and suddenly realized I hadn't seen either of the dogs for awhile. I turned off the vacuum and went searching.

              As you can see, Lucky realizes he has been caught doing something wrong and feels contrite. Lady doesn't care. Typical! This scene cracked me up. They don't usually sleep together, but I guess they figured this was an island of safety from the loud vacuum, and I was conveniently distracted and wouldn't notice they were up on the futon. Too funny. I let them stay there till I finished, they were just too cute.

Lady: Yeah yeah yeah, get down off the sofa.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cat Toe Chronicles

Until Linus and Lucy came along, I had no idea that some cats are born with extra toes. It was such a surprise to see kittens with mittens! Linus (Lucy's late brother) was particularly blessed in the toe department. Not only did he have the extra thumb toes, but he had several extra dewclaws farther up his back paws...where there shouldn't be any toes or claws at all! He was an adorable oddball kitty. I've since learned that these cats are called "polydactyl" or "Hemingway" cats. They first appeared in the mid-1800s and because of their unusual appearance, were often associated with witches - and killed. I am glad that Linus and Lucy did not live in the 1800s!

As people became more accustomed to polydactyl cats, they were believed to be good luck, especially from the viewpoint of sailors. Because they were such good mousers, they were often transported on ships for overseas voyages. The ancestors of today's polydactyl cats in the United States arrived by boat from Europe.

Author Ernest Hemingway had an affinity for these cats, having received one as a gift from a ship's captain when he was living and writing in Key West, Florida. His cats bred and began to populate the small island with polydactyls, which is how these cats came to be known as Hemingway cats. The story of Snowball and her descendents (all 60 of them!) still living at the Hemingway Home and Museum is an interesting one and can be found here: http://www.hemingwayhome.com/HTML/our_cats.htm.

When you become used to living with polydactyl cats, so-called "normal" cats begin to look odd. "How do they walk around on those pointy little feet?" you find yourself wondering. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world record for the cat with the most toes goes to Jake, a Canadian cat with 28 toes. Wow Jake, that's a lot of toes!!

Lucy and Linus:
We are good luck kitties!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hair Hair Everywhere!

Why are the dogs shedding when the weather is turning colder by the day? It happens every year, and has always been a mystery to me. Lady and Lucky shed in the spring - and in the fall too.

Oh, who am I kidding, they shed every single month out of the year. And they take turns - as one stops shedding, the other begins. This pretty much ensures the need for constant vacuuming. It would be nice if they could get on a schedule and both shed at the same time. Then perhaps a few months out of the year it would be possible to do things that normal people do, like wear black pants and vacuum "weekly." I've talked to them about this, but so far they haven't gotten on board with the idea.

You know the shedding is getting bad when even the dog has dog hair on him. Lucky, sprinkled liberally with Lady hair.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Extended Furry Family

Rumor has it that I was born under a wandering star. My sister claims she has two entire pages in her address book devoted to me. It's true I've moved around a lot in my life, but I'm proud to report that she has not had to cross me out and start a new entry for more than eight years now. However, since I decided early on that I was not the "big city" type, I've always looked forward to holidays as the time to venture over the river and through the woods - back home to the city to visit family. That includes the extended furry family!

Molly wags her whole body -
"Hello! Hello! How have you been?"

I know large families, with lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents with not a kitty or a dog or a hamster among them. I am so glad not to be in one of those families! Arriving home to the big city brings not just hugs of greeting, but tail wags and purrs too. Lucky me, lucky us!

This year, by the time all of the relatives had arrived, there were three boxers frolicking in the yard, one cat watching on with interest, and another cat hiding, not to be seen again until everyone was long gone. Among the many blessings we give thanks for this year, one is certainly our family pets. They love us unconditionally, bring us joy, calm our spirits when we're stressed, bring us comfort, and make us laugh with their antics. Plenty to be thankful for indeed.

My sister and Tigger say:
"Whew, Thanksgiving is over! Time for a nap!"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Tales

Have you ever heard a turkey gobble? Now I don't mean a single gobbling turkey, but rather the sound of an entire group of turkeys doing a deafening "group gobble." It is something to hear, let me tell you. The abundance of wild (I use that term loosely) turkeys in the neighborhood was a source of wonder and amazement when we first moved here. Operative word "was." It is still awe-inspiring to hear one of those enthusiastic group gobbles, but in general, the novelty of having turkeys as neighbors has worn off. This is more or less how it went:


2004 - Wow, check it out, there's a turkey at the door!!
(I nicknamed him George)

2005 - The turkeys are out back. Look at all those colors! I had no idea turkeys were iridescent. And what's that shock of hair hanging off his chest?

2006 - The turkeys are out there again.

2007 - I wish the turkeys would go hang out somewhere else, they're eating all the bird seed and kicking the mulch around.

2008 - "Shoo! Shoo!" (it was around 2008 that I became a spectacle for the neighbors, often running outside in my robe and fuzzy socks screaming and waving a broom in the air. Come to think of it, I broke that broom slamming it onto the sidewalk in an attempt to scare them away. But the turkeys aren't easy to intimidate. The darn things are huge and they just look at you with their beady little eyes like "Hmmmph!")

2009 - Nice concrete driveway replaced rocky gravel driveway. Turkeys appreciative of the new, smoother means of transport from front yard to back yard. Show their appreciation by leaving gifts of brownish green blobs up and down the entire length of the driveway from mailbox to garage. YUCK!!

2010 - Discovered a new means of turkey management. One day it occurred to me - "I have two herding dogs!" I was afraid to chance it though, fearful of a turkey getting hurt (I don't want them in my yard, but don't them hurt either), or alternately a dog filled with a new sense of freedom and purpose running off down the road never to be seen again. Lucky, the border collie/lab mix, would be the one to follow his nose and take off, so Lady got the job.

I don't know if they have turkeys in Germany, but it turns out that a German Shepherd is an excellent turkey herder! Who knew? One afternoon I waited until the turkeys were at a safe distance, so they'd have plenty of time to fly off before she got there. Not knowing what to expect, I held my breath, then told Lady "Okay girl, go get them!" She knew instantly what I wanted her to do, rocketing down the front hill. I watched in amazement - she didn't chase or try to attack them, she just herded them off the property. Most of them chose to scurry off on foot rather than fly (cocky little buggers), and what I found astonishing was that Lady did not pursue them past the edge of the property. She ran up and down the property line until they were all in the street, then looked up the hill at me beaming with pride. I told her "Good girl! Come on back!" and she came running back. Wow. Cool!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Surprise Visitor

As common as bears are in western North Carolina, I don't think I'll ever get used to glancing up from the kitchen table and seeing a bear. I grew up in Atlanta, and if you saw a bear there, it had escaped from the zoo. This rotund fellow showed up recently looking for an easy meal. He was so fat he was almost round! I wonder if the chubbiness of the bears in fall holds any portent regarding the severity of the coming winter? Around here, folks put a lot of stock in the forecasting powers of the wooly worm, but if this bear is any indication, we're in for a long, cold, snowy one.  

The funny thing is that there were once a couple of bird feeders in this exact spot. Several years ago, a mother bear with three small cubs visited (and demolished) those feeders. That night I'd watched for 30 minutes, mesmerized by the family. Baby bears in the backyard, what a hoot!

Where did that bird feeder go?
Remembering that night, I couldn't help but wonder if this big bear was one of those cubs, all grown up now. It didn't take long before he figured out where the new, improved (squirrel-proof if not bear-proof) feeder is located. Up the stairs he waddled.....

Ahh, there it is!

Fortunately for the bird feeder, Lady happened to glance out the window and spot the bear. She promptly went beserk, barking and carrying on as if the house were under seige. Her tendency to overreact to everything is normally a source of frustration, but on this day it was welcome. The ruckus made the bear decide to move along and look for a more peaceful spot to have dinner. 
Goodbye Mr. Bear!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


A good friend
doesn't interrupt,
and never steals your food.
She will help you keep an eye out
for intruder cats in the yard.
She doesn't think your big toes are weird,
not one bit.
A good friend sits quietly with you,
and won't take your favorite napping spot
in front of the heat vent.
She agrees with you that cats are better than dogs.
Everyone should have at least one good friend.