Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Cat Cautionary Tale--And a Furry PSA

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Have you ever had a pet you dearly love?  You’ve known me long enough to have heard of my dear Lola (so tiny when I got her at the SPCA that she couldn’t even go up the stairs in my apartment) and Leon (who I saved from the torment of a pack of street kids on Ponce deLeon Avenue.) Lola lived to be 20, Leon 14. They never acknowledged the other, although lithe lived in the same apartment.

Anyway. I loved them. The incredible Annette Dashofy has Kensi. And the two of them will break your heart with this story. Stop, take a moment, read this. And cherish your loved ones.



Kensi’s Story

We’re only four months in to the year and already it’s provided me with some fabulous highs (contract extension, USA Today Bestseller list, multi-book audio deal, wonderful reviews on the new release) and some devastating lows (my mom’s death, several illnesses, and nearly losing Kensi).

That last one involving my office assistant/kitty cat may not have been on the same level as losing my mom, but on the heels of everything else, having to rush Kensi to the emergency vet and leaving her there drove me to my knees.

Guilt had much to do with the anguish. What happened could have been—should have been—prevented. By me. The often overly cautious cat mom.

Some of you who follow me on Facebook already know the story. What surprised me was the response. Not because of the outpouring of support. I already knew I have the best Facebook friends. What surprised me was the number of pet owners who didn’t know about the hazards of plants.

So by way of a furry PSA, here’s Kensi’s and my story.

I love flowers, especially roses. Who doesn’t, right? So I squeed with delight when this gorgeous spring bouquet of roses and lilies showed up at my door. I also know Kensi loves to chew on plants, so I snapped a photo of the flowers with Miss Nosy checking them out and then promptly put them on top of our armoire, which is the only—and I do mean only—spot in this house where she can’t get to them. For the next week, I admired them and paused to inhale the scent of those gorgeous roses several times a day.

But as cut flowers do, they started to wilt. I thought I’d squeeze one more day out of them. And that was my mistake.

Monday morning was one of those Mondays. The kind you wish you could do over but are afraid you’d end up reliving a la Groundhog Day. I spilled a glass of water. Hubby kicked the cat food bowl sending crunchies all over the floor.

And in the midst of me rushing to get Hubby out the door for work, Kensi starting gakking. As I cleaned up the mess, I noticed something salmon-colored in it. I also noticed a few feet away, at the base of the armoire, several wilted lily petals from the bouquet. Salmon-colored lily petals.

Poor Kensi continued to gak. I followed her around, mopping up the liquid. Two petals had come back up. At first I thought, well that’s good. She should be fine. She’d thrown the things up, so there wasn’t anything left in her system to cause problems.

Except I knew almost immediately that things weren’t fine. She acted like her mouth was sore and she refused her favorite cat treats. So I did what I always do when I don’t know all the facts. I hit Google. 

[http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/digestive/c_ct_lily_poisoning]

What I read terrified me. By now it was a little after 6:00 in the morning and my vet doesn’t open until 9:00. Plus he’s not an emergency vet. His staff might very well re-direct me elsewhere. Tamping down the panic, I called the nearest 24-hour emergency vet, which was still 45 minutes away. They did little to comfort me. Oh, they were calm about it, but the bottom line was “get her in here as soon as you can.” Do not pass go. Do not collect two-hundred dollars.

By the time I got her to the vet, she was definitely not herself. However, had I not witnessed her throwing up and not seen the petals on the floor, I wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong. She wasn’t glaringly ill. Just not quite right.
 
The vet assured me her prognosis was good. I’d gotten her there quickly. They would keep her for two to three days, keep her on IVs to flush her kidneys, give her meds to sooth her stomach, and otherwise support her while she fought the toxins. They would do bloodwork and monitor her vitals.

I’m not sure who was more upset about having to leave her there—Kensi or me. The best news that morning was that her baseline kidney numbers were good.

The information they gave me about cats and lilies (and a number of other plants and flowers) was sobering. Had I waited until she started showing obvious symptoms of being ill, the kidney damage would have been done. Her prognosis would have been bleak. It didn’t matter that she’d thrown up the pedals she’d eaten. If a bit of pollen falls into water and the cat drinks the water, the cat will likely die. They are that deadly.

Our story has a happy ending. Kensi came home after 48 hours. She was still a little off for another two days or so, but is now back to her normal, funny, cuddly self. Any future bouquets of flowers will be adored, photographed, and immediately donated to someone without pets.

To all of you slaves to fur babies out there, educate yourself. Not all plants are toxic, but avoid bringing those that are into your pet’s territory.  [http://www.petmd.com/cat/emergency/poisoning-toxicity/e_ct_poisonous_plants]

By the way, I can continue to love my roses. They are not toxic to cats!


HANK:  Oh, what a saga! And we are so pleased that Kensi is okay.  I know you were so worried!  Reds and readers, pet stories? Or—what things did you find out the hard way?


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USA Today bestselling author Annette Dashofy has spent her entire life in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by cattle and horses. When she wasn’t roaming the family’s farm or playing in the barn, she could be found reading or writing. After high school, she spent five years as an EMT on the local ambulance service, dealing with everything from drunks passing out on the sidewalk to mangled bodies in car accidents. These days, she, her husband, and their spoiled cat, Kensi, live on property that was once part of her grandfather’s dairy.

Her Agatha-nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series includes Circle of Influence (also nominated for the David Award for Best Mystery of 2014), Lost Legacy, Bridges Burned, With A Vengeance, and No Way Home.



A relaxing trail ride turns tragic when Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers discovers the body of a popular county commissioner in her Pennsylvania woods. Inconsistencies surround the horrible “accident,” but before she can investigate further, she’s pried away by a plea for help from her best friend whose son has been deemed a person of interest in a homicide over a thousand miles away. When he vanishes without a trace, his mother begs Zoe to help clear him and bring him safely home. The task takes Zoe out of her comfort zone in a frantic trip to the desolate canyons and bluffs of New Mexico where she joins forces with the missing boy’s sister and a mysterious young Navajo.

Back at home, Vance Township’s Chief of Police Pete Adams must deal not only with the commissioner’s homicide, but with an influx of meth and a subsequent rash of drug overdoses in his rural community. Bodies keep turning up while suspects keep disappearing. However little else matters when he learns that half a continent away, a brutal killer has Zoe in his sights.


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68 comments:

  1. Oh, how scary . . . so glad your Kensi is okay now, Annette . . . .

    I didn’t realize that so many plants were toxic for dogs and cats. I knew about daffodils [my favorite flower], but a quick check at the ASPCA website yielded a huge list for our beloved pets. Thanks for sharing your story; hopefully, it will keep some other animal from danger . . . .

    Over the years we’ve had both dogs and cats. Mostly, we’ve been fortunate that we’ve missed all those horrific could-have-been episodes [although the girls still remember burying one of their kitties in the flower bed after it had an unfortunate meeting with a car]. Sharing your home with an animal is often like adding another child to the mix . . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan. Yes, it was an enlightening discovery for me too. And if Kensi and I can educate another pet mom or dad and save them the grief and expense, at least the ordeal will have served a purpose.

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  2. So good to know. Thank you so much, Annette, and congrats on NO WAY HOME!

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    1. Thanks, Gretchen. Give Bently a hug from me and Kensi!

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm glad everything turned out okay.

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  4. Such good information, Annette! Thank you… so glad that that chapter had a happy ending So Reds and readers, do you have cats? What special things do you do to take care of them?

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    1. Thank you, Hank, for letting me share our story here. Kensi sends her thanks too!

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  5. Annette, big WHEW! I knew philodendron is toxic to cats but did not know about lilies. And congratulations (BIG!) on all the good news and heartfelt condolences on the sad... Rocky times. Looking forward to reading NO WAY HOME.

    What did we do before the Internet. And tell us about your cat's name. She's so sweet looking.

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    1. Thanks, Hallie. She really is a sweetie pie.

      Kensi came to us as a tiny sickly dropped-off kitten. I never expected her to survive and decided she needed a kick-ass name to live up to. So I named her after Kensi Blye on the TV show NCIS-LA. It worked! My Kensi kitty has more than lived up to her moniker!

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    2. I wondered if she was named after Kensi! Definitely kick-ass!

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    3. Yes, she is! BOTH of them!

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  6. Poor Kensi. Our Eliot is hell on wheels around flowers, so I rarely have anything inside, and never lilies. We have been lucky.

    I am sure our cat and dogs have a healthier diet than we do. I just spent $350 at the vets last week that included heart worm and Lyme Disease tests, yearly physicals and vaccinations, and 12 months supply of heart worm preventative meds for Toby and Penny. And our vet isn't expensive compared to others in town. We've bee with him since the ink dried on his diploma, so we get a goodly discount.

    Thanks Annette for your great story and advice.

    Ann in Rochester

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    1. Ann in Rochester, how wonderful to have vet who gives you some breaks in the expense department. I keep trying to give Kensi "better" food, but she's incredibly picky. Fancy Feast only. And only certain types and flavors. Plus the fact she loves a particular flavor one day, doesn't mean a thing the next. But I do cater to her. #SpoiledCat

      And yes, the irony is not lost on me that she turns her nose up at perfectly good cat food, but gobbles down toxic flowers. *insert exasperated eye roll*

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    2. Annette, that's like my late lab mix, who couldn't be arsed to go from his cushion to the water bowl (cleaned daily, full of fresh water) but would lap down the most disgusting muddy puddles whenever we walked.

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  7. Congratulations, Annette, on all the good news--and hope the blessings continue throughout the year. Kensi reminds me of PK, one of the boys' four rescue cats. (We're dog and cat people here). I did know about lilies, but not rhododendrons--which bloom just outside my front door. Definitely will check out the link you provided. I love fresh flowers, but there literally isn't any place high enough or secure enough to keep the cats away here! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Flora, they do manage to get into and onto EVERYTHING, don't they???

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    2. And how do they do it! I will never understand… I have a producer with two labradors. They have eaten everything on the planet.

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  8. Rhododendrons? Wow, and I have two giant bushes. We don't have cats, but the neighbors have two and they let them roam occasionally. But they've been in the house for a few years now and no incidents.

    No close calls, but (maybe) a funny story. You know how chocolate is supposed to be poisonous to dogs? When the kids were little, we took them trick-or-treating. When we left, we put our giant bowl of Hershe's miniatures in the center of the dining room table thinking our dog, Casey, would never be able to reach it.

    Wrong. We got home and there were wrappers all over the floor. Casey must have eaten half to 3/4 of the bowl. We waited all night for him to get sick or throw up or something. But nothing. That dog must have had a cast-iron stomach!

    Mary/Liz

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    1. I'm glad you dodged that bullet, Mary!

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    2. Mary, that's so funny! I once made a double batch of chocolate no-bake cookies for a friend. She had a little mop of a dog named Mildred and a cat. She left the cookies on the kitchen counter--way too high for Mildred to reach-- and went outside to do something. When she came in, the cat was sitting on the counter, the plate was on the floor, and Mildred had just finished the last of the cookies. Like you, she expected the worse, but Mildred was fine! We'll never know the cat's motives!!

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    3. Too funny, Flora! You have to wonder if the cat was following orders, being helpful, or trying to commit murder!

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    4. Now there's a book plot. Murderer bribes cat into killing annoying dog by pushing chocolate cookies onto the floor. LOL

      Mary/Liz

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    5. Mary, our dog did the same thing when we were younger. She ate all of our Halloween candy and came into the room bloated like a piñata. It was awful, but she shrunk back to regular size within a day or so.

      So glad to hear that Kensi is okay, Annette. You deserved a break after a difficult time!

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    6. Thanks, Ingrid. And glad your dog didn't suffer any lingering effects.

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  9. I am running out to an event--back soon! xx

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  10. And before I forget-when I didn't feed her quickly enough, my Lola used to open the cabinet door, take out packets of Tender Vittles, and rip them open. Scattering the little food pellets all over.
    Now. She did NOT eat them. That would have been too needy. She was just showing me she could do it herself IF she wanted to. But I'd have to clean it up.
    (I know, I know TV's were bad, but I didn't know it then.)

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    1. They are too darned smart, aren't they?! :-D

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  11. Annette, we were all so worried about Kensi. None of us as worried as you. We do fret about our furbabies, and that is how it should be. All the scary things in the world, and it's up to us to protect them from all of it. SO happy Kensi is okay, my friend!

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    1. Thank you, Kaye. I was worried sick over Annabelle too, waiting for her blood work. Glad all is well with our fur children.

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  12. My sister-in-law had an American Eskimo dog that ate a whole bag of oreos -- she came home from work to find that he had been sick in every room of the house (which had mostly white carpet). She took him to the vet, and after a check-up, they said that he was fine and had apparently gotten everything out of his system...

    I'm so glad that Kensi is all right -- that was scary! Thanks for the food and plant safety warnings for pets links!

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    1. Thanks, Celia.

      White carpet??? I can't even imagine!

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    2. Celia, the next time I'm grumbling at my Neko for barfing up her undigested cat food, I'm going to think of your sister-in law and be grateful.

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    3. Oh, I know that is not funny… But wow, talk about an instant picture in your mind!

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  13. I know how scary that is, Annette. Little Big Dog was a mere 9 months old when she got accidentally closed up in the garage. She jumped up on a very high workbench and ate a pack of staple gun staples, which are not like regular staples at all. I, too, noticed something wrong when she started horking and I saw metal in the foam.

    Cue our rush to the emergency vet, as it was Saturday. Four hours of xrays and invasive tests later come to find she'd gaked them all up at home, not a one was left anywhere in her body.

    A dozen years later, this past fall, we found out she had cancer and surgery could give her the best chance to live another 18-24 months. We wouldn't really know how much time thought because the cancer had done it's damage to her liver and kidneys, leaching out calcium from her bones and depositing it in those organs. Three days before Christmas she had two separate operations to remove the cancer. She dealt with it like a champ, much better than the tests that one day when she was a puppy.

    We're keeping out fingers crossed for the most time possible and loving on her as much as possible until the inevitable day when she's no longer happy or comfortable or living her best life.

    That's the thing about pets. You go into it knowing that you're merely borrowing unconditional love and one day the bill will come due. It's worth it though.

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    1. It most definitely is worth it in every way possible!

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    2. Oh, Aimee. Hugs to you and your pup. I've been through cancer with my Angel Sammie kitty. You do the best you can, and yes, you know you're on borrowed time and just love 'em while you've got 'em.

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  14. Thank goodness you got help for Kensi in time, Annette. What a crazy thing to have to worry about! Who knew?

    Like Mary Sutton, we had a chocolate pigout by a family dog, who not only ate fudge and chocolate bourbon balls, but also an entire metallic bag of French truffles, plus all the other wrappings, foil and plastic. I was trying not to be angry at her, since we were all freaked out and worried that she would be so sick, and maybe die. Nope. She didn't even throw up. Later, they found the remains of the ahem, recycled packaging, but she was perfectly fine.

    Another daughter's dog ate a rock out of the yard, which cost over $4,000 to remove. A year later they're still paying off that bill.

    Pets can break your heart, can't they?

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    1. Indeed, Karen. And everyone at my vet's office, as well as the emergency vet's office, have sworn an oath of secrecy. My husband must NEVER know what my bills are. He doesn't WANT to know, and we're all happier that way.

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    2. Another Kensi trick: she finds tiny little stones, like what you carry into the house in the treads of your boots, and she picks them up. Doesn't eat them (THANK GOD), but carries them around and deposits them--IN MY BED. It's like the Princess and the Pea but with stones.

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    3. Yes, Hank. And even after having to undergo surgery to get rid of it he has tried to eat others.

      I think he feels an affinity with them because of their IQ.

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  15. I've heard this a couple if times lately, so scary! Glad your Kensi got through it ok, thank god you saw her throwing up the lilly petals and googled it straight away and could get her to the vet.
    I love my fur baby and would hate for something to happen to him (I lost my previous cat at 13, after just 2 years with me. He died in his sleep, which was something, but still heartbreaking), so thanks for the cautionary reminder!

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    1. I can't quite say I'm "happy" to share, Maky, but if Kensi's story saves another pet, the ordeal will at least have some value.

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  16. I had no idea lily petals were poison to cats. I have two cats and have had lilies in the house before - yikes! I'm so glad Kensi is okay, Annette, and very grateful for the information! Looking forward to your new book!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn. I've had lilies in the house before too, but was lucky. And I've had other cats who had no interest whatsoever in flowers. This little feline vacuum though, sucks up everything that hits the floor...except cat food.

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  17. Annette, so glad Kensi is okay! And thanks for the heads up on the lilies. I have a plant eating cat, and while I don't usually buy lilies, my daughter gave me a beautiful Easter lily. I had it right beside the cat bowls! It is now on the front porch, waiting for daughter (who only has dogs) to pick it up and take it home.

    Our scariest pet story involved our daughter's dog. Daughter and son-in-law and their two dogs were living with us for a couple of months while waiting for remodeling on their house to finish. Monster, who is gorgeous dog of mixed and mysterious parentage, was not much more than a year old and our younger dog, Jasmine, was only about six months. I found Jasmine chewing on a little plastic jar which had some reddish stuff in it. Then, when I was cleaning up after Monster in the yard, I noticed his poop was the same reddish color. Like iron. Turned out the little jar was jeweler's rouge out of Hub's took kit and Monster had eaten a good bit of it. Iron is highly toxic to dogs. Cue emergency vet, a couple of days on IVs to detox, and BIG bills. Fortunately, he was fine, and Jasmine apparently didn't eat enough to do her any damage. But jeweler's rouge??? Who'd have thought?

    Oh, and Annette, your book sounds terrific and is immediately going in my TBR pile. I love the cover!

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    1. Oh, thank you thank you thank you, Deborah! I hope you like it!

      It boggles my mind the stuff these critters get into! Jeweler's rouge? Good heavens.

      And yes! Get that lily out of there. You don't even want them getting the pollen by accident.

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  18. So glad that Kensi pulled through. Every pet owner needs to be aware of the danger plants can pose to their sweet companions. So hard to lose a furry member of the family. I lost my fifteen-year-old Australian Cattledog two years ago, and I think I'm finally ready to welcome another doggie into our home.

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    1. Aw, I'm so sorry, Kathy. But I hope you do give another pup a forever home. We rescue them, but they do an even better job of rescuing us.

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    2. Oh, keep us posted on the possible new pooch!

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  19. I'm happy that Kensi is fine, Annette. So scary. We had a similar saga over the holidays. My son brought UPS packages into the house and put them on the table. Our newest pup, a very limber Boxer mix, apparently stole the package that--unbeknownst to us--contained a gift of 1 lb of chocolate. When we got home, the package was ripped and the entire box had been eaten. We weren't sure who did the deed, and so the vet had us bring all three of our dogs in. It didn't take long to figure out who the culprit was. By the time we left, the offender was groggy but okay and the whole vet office reeked of chocolate. Holidays can be dangerous--lesson learned and we were grateful she wasn't harmed. Hugs to you and your kitty.

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    1. So scary! Glad it turned out okay, Wendy.

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  20. I'm so glad Kensi was okay. I don't have a pet of my own, but I love my sister's animals like they're my nieces and nephews. Life stops when they're sick. Glad you and Kensi got your happy ending. Looking forward to reading Book 2 of your series - devoured Circle of Influence!

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    1. Yes, Meredith, you are so right! It's a very special bond.

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    2. Hey, Meredith! *WAVING* Thanks so much. You're so right about life stopping when they're sick. Screeching. Halt.

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  21. The perfect PSA and thanks for the news that roses are NOT toxic. I've long banned all living plants from my house so I'm relieved to know I can sneak in a rose or two and Hutch, my favorite (don't tell the others) and if it's it's green let me at it, cat will not suffer from nibbling. So glad that Kensi recovered and is back to normal. What a horrifying experience. What a whirlwind year.

    I am so sorry to read about your Mom, Annette. I did not know. But I am thrilled with your success, as I know she was, and would be to hear of your extended contract and latest best seller! Hugs.

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    1. Hutch! What a fabulous name. And yes, I have thought about how proud Annette's mom most certainly was.

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    2. Yes, love the name Hutch. Do you have a Starsky too?

      Thanks about my mom. The last few years...and especially the last few months...were pretty awful for her.

      Anyway, yes, roses are safe, but beware of other flowers that have "rose" in the name but aren't our beloved thorny-stemmed versions. Some of those ARE toxic. When in doubt, check the websites.

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  22. Thank you so much everyone! Love you madly. And Annette--cannot wait to see you at Malice! Give Kensi a big kiss from all of us...

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    1. Hank, thanks so much for having me and allowing me to share Kensi's tale. I will definitely give her a hug and a kiss. See you soon!

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