Monday, May 9, 2016

Pets on Parade

Does Neko look like she has a sensitive tum?
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I admit, the reason we're discussing pets is so I have an excuse to post pictures of mine. The subject of pets came up recently among the Reds because we were comparing the special diets and/or medical needs of out cats and dogs. I've got one cat who's on easy-to-digest chow, another who gets a special allergy food that costs $60 for an eight-and-a-half pound bag, plus every-other-month doses of liquid prednisone. Which she does NOT like to take. My Shih Tzu is in excellent health, but he needs to get groomed every six weeks, which is a lot more frequently than I see my hairdresser!

Why do we do it? Because we love them.

At the emergency vet's

Right now we're calling our junior cat, Juno, the Five Thousand Dollar Kitty, because that's roughly what we've paid to for her medical treatments so far (she's the one with the allergy and the $$ cat food.  Juno is one of those cats who believes doors exist simply to be walked through. Normally, she's pretty content with our upstairs - like many old farmhouses, most of our bedrooms,  bathrooms and hallways open one onto the other. Normally, it's a pleasant cat track, but now it's Spring, and Juno wants to walk through outside doors...which she did, successfully, a couple weeks ago. She got into a tangle with something; a barn cat? A fisher? A car? and scraped all the skin off her two hind legs. One overnight trip to the emergency vet later (like kids, pets only ever get into emergencies on evenings and weekends, when their regular vet/pediatrician is closed) and she was all stitched up with colorful bandages on her hind legs. Which needed to be professionally changed twice.

Did I mention we got her for free at a shelter adoption event? Just goes to show, truly, There Is No Such Thing As A Free Cat.

Good boy, Lou!
Juno's doing fine now, as is our senior cat, Neko. Our for-now-only dog Louis is loving the spring. When we adopted him he was afraid to step onto grass except to do his business, but now he's become a real Maine outdoor-loving dog. Unfortunately, the Shih Tzu coat was not bred for the Maine outdoors, so most afternoon rambles are followed by extensive de-burring.

So, Reds, tell us about your furry or feathered friends...

Yoda and Tonka and Lucy
LUCY BURDETTE: I'm the one who started the topic on the special pet diets, I admit. In spite of the expense, Yoda and Tonka are part of the family, and endlessly amusing (to me anyway. John keeps telling me to enjoy my last pets...I know he's only kidding.) My mother passed on the pet gene to all four of us kids. She was pet-crazy and we had a parade of German shepherds, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, mice--you name it. Here's a photo of me with my furries.

Matching shades! Go, Lucy.

And this is Jack the cat, who I think was the best cat ever. Loyally marched along with me through marriage, divorce, moves, another marriage, another move...He's the one I had in mind when I developed the cat Evinrude for Hayley Snow.

HALLIE EPHRON: Right now I'm keeping and apparently feeding what feels like an army of ants. No household pets to keep them at bay. The birds who flock to the bird bath in our yard are the closest thing I have right now to pets. I do like other people's pets - I'm a big fan of Yoda and Tonka.

I think my sister Delia's dog knows I'm not a pet person. I was over there last week and Honey chewed through the bottom of my tote bag to get at my bagel.

A man and his cat allergies.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Oh, here is my favorite photo of Lola, my darling cat, who I got at the shelter in 19...80-ish. She only liked me, only, wouldn't even deal with anyone else. Then, 19 years into her life, Jonathan came along.  He is allergic to cats, and she knew it. Just to be Lola, she clung to him like he was her long long best friend. Because she KNEW he was allergic. Best cat ever. As her life ended, she would only eat tuna, and cream, and occasionally ground turkey. Or shrimp. Fine.  She died at age 20, in my kitchen, and I still dream about her.

Leon enjoying the best of '05 tech.
Leon, now there was a great cat. He was a stray, who I saved from the side of the road  (Ponce DeLeon Avenue) when he was being tortured by some stupid  kids.  He had a great skill--he could be comfortable anywhere, which usually meant exactly where I was trying to work. He and Lola never spoke. She refused to admit he existed.
Now--we have ducks.

Rhys' granddog, Sunny, who is lovely.
RHYS BOWEN:  We are never in one place long enough to have pets, which I really regret as I love animals ( except not too Keen on grandson's bearded dragon lizard. Too fierce and prickly). I do get my dog time with Sunny and Oscar when I'm with my daughters and am dying to meet little Dom, my other daughter's new dog.

We haven't had pets since the kids were small and we had Guinea pig and Gish and Marmarlade the cat and St John the English Setter. Miss them.

Dax and Jasmine.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: We have a houseful. The two German shepherds, Dax and Jasmine, who are three and two, respectively. We had had seven years each between previous dogs (Hallie ,then Neela, then Dax) so it's so nice to have these two young dogs who play madly and are such company for each other. Dax is on special food for some skin allergies. Jasmine, however, our rescue, has inflammatory bowel disease so must always be on special food (different food, of course) and medication.

Pookie and her bad eye enjoying the bed.
And then there are the cats. Bram, Yasu, and now Pookie, who was an outside cat. We had looked after her for a couple of years after a neighbor moved and left her behind. We gave her a little house on our front porch with a heating pad, good food, flea treatment, and lots of attention. I was not thrilled over the idea of three cats in the house, and Pookie had always, as far as we knew, been an outside cat. But a few weeks ago she was badly bitten in her shoulder. Trip to vet, antibiotics, pain meds, confinement. Pookie is now an indoor cat. She seems perfectly happy in the house but the they are all still adjusting to each other.

Our dogs absolutely LOVE the baby. So cute.

JULIA: What about you, dear readers? Tell us about your pets in the comments, and if you send a picture to julia at juliaspencerfleming dot com, I'll put it up here on the front page!

Honey Ephron, looking very innocent

Edith Maxwell's Birdy, enjoying his books

Edith Maxwell's Preston and Christabel - so fluffy!!!!
Flora Church's Munch
Mary Sutton's old boy Casey in his favorite spot
Brooklyn, Mary Sutton's foster dog
Faun, unsurprisingly called "The Ears" by Lisa Alber

Lynn Willis' Finn the Wonder Dog!
Celia Fowler's Mr. Cuddles looks worth every $$$... do best buddies Sophie and Jake.

Laura DiSilverio's very energetic Marco

Sue Ellen Snape's Mick with his pet, Critter
Pat D's senior dog Boo, looking very distinguished.

Karen from Ohio's daughters (when young) and Bunny (also young)
Yes, that IS a red fox pup! It's Karen from Ohio's Vixey.


  1. Firmly in the cat camp here, and they are all featured in my books! Preston, Norwegian Forest cat, is the farm cat in my Local Foods Mysteries. Big guy, tiny mew, a little dim, but very sweet. Christabel is adopted in the second Quaker Midwife Mystery as the kitchen cat. She adores Preston, and still hisses at junior boy cat Birdy even after ten years living together. Birdy's the tuxedo cat in the Country Story Mysteries. Very sweet, irresistably attracted to closed doors, and as curious as a kitten even at thirteen. Will send along a pic. So grateful none need medial care of any kind...

  2. We've had dogs and cats . . . and hamsters when the girls were younger . . . but we are currently pet-less :(

  3. And of course, we also have Wheatie, the invisible dog. VERY easy to care for.

    And yes, what is the proper answer to a pet owner whose dog leaps on you? And they say--oh, sorry, Rover get down....

    Wheatie is perfectly behaved...

  4. Sorry I did not get my act together in time for this post. Lola is our adorable 5-year-old cat who has a bubbly personality. At least with us -- she tends to be shy around strangers. We adopted her from an animal shelter, but the man who runs it says she came from an animal hoarder. So she's always looking for tiny crevices to hide in. Xander — oh, I miss Xander so much, my grumpy old man cat. And if you want to know about Mr. K -- the talky (party Siamese?) diva cat who got me through my 20s -- he turns up in THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT and is adopted by Maggie. And he'll be making a return appearance in THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE. I'm proud to say the fictional K has received fan letters.

  5. Speaking of fan letters (or I should say fan complaints), one early reviewer of AN APPETITE FOR MURDER dissed the book because Evinrude the cat went missing and she felt Hayley Snow didn't spend enough time looking for him:)

  6. Oh my - Lucy, those blue eyes! Gorgeous!

    I am mostly a dog person. We had Casey, a lab/beagle mix (we think) that we got right after moving in. Our neighbor's sister was going through a divorce. She had to move out, but to a no-pet apartment and the soon-to-be-ex was not taking care of the dog. So we got him. He barked at EVERYTHING for the first twelve years we had him. Probably the beagle. But he was great with our kids. Never once snapped at them, even after my daughter bit HIM.

    We are pet-less right now. My husband said "no way" after Casey died (at 14), but I've moved him to "not yet." I'd love for my next dog to be a greyhound rescue. They are so beautiful and most of the folks I know who've had them love them (I did hear my first greyhound horror story over the weekend, but I think this woman adopted hers from an individual, not an organized rescue because some of the things she said were just wrong). Some day when I'm a best-selling author, working at home...

    There is an orange tabby that's been hanging around the house. We thought it was the neighbors' cat, but last night I noticed it didn't have a collar. It sat at the end of our back sidewalk staring at us. It hangs around all the time, even though we've never fed it. While the hubby is allergic to cats, The Girl would love having a cat around. In our neighborhood with all the wildlife, I'm surprised anyone lets a cat run free (we have just about everything, even though I live in a suburban neighborhood, not the country).

  7. Almost forgot - we have a "foster dog." We occasionally dog-sit my brother's dog Brooklyn. She's a Yorkie-poodle mix and so adorable. My kids love her - and she loves our giant backyard (something she doesn't have at home).

  8. No pets here, not since we moved to this house with a huge, unfenceable yard. However, we have raised all manner of creatures, since my husband, brother-in-law and (now deceased) father-in-law have been wildlife photographers going back to the 30's. Raccoons, possums, coyote, foxes (grey and red), rabbits, flying and grey squirrels, ducks, geese, turkeys, quail, owls, a skunk or two, a weasel, and God knows what else. Who needs cats and dogs?

    Two of my daughters have dogs, though, and I love spending time with them when I visit. One old dog is on his last legs, a 13-year old black Lab who I call the Zombie Dog because he keeps on living, despite incredibly mounting health problems.

    My youngest's latest dog is her boyfriend's 17-month old Chocolate Lab, a gigantic dog, who caused her to send us a recent text: "Jason just bought me a $4,000 rock." It was the one the dog ate, couldn't pass, and had to be cut out of him, the big doof.

  9. My fur baby is a shelter dog named Finn. Vet said she's 100% border collie but I'm kinda like - how do you know, she was a stray? Whatever she is, she's the love of my life. I've only had her since April 1 but already can't imagine life without her. She brings me my shoes when she has to go out. This past Saturday while on a three-mile hike, she kept wanting to go back in the direction we had come from. She was barking and turning circles and very animated about going back. So I gave in and about 100 yards in, she stopped and barked like crazy. There, on the trail were my driver's license and car keys. I had unknowingly pulled them out of my pocket when I took my phone out to take a picture. She was perfectly content then to finish our hike in the right direction.

  10. I'm down to six cats from eight. Did I mention I used to be president of a pet rescue in northern Maine? PAWS Animal Welfare Society in Fort Kent Mills. We specialized in cats. So, the three cats I moved to Maine with became multi cats. Some were unplaceable, one adopted my husband when he worked in New Hampshire...

    And Julia, there IS no such thing as a free cat. We've had them on thyroid meds, I've got one now on heart meds, another on tummy meds...and the list goes one. We learned by hard experience (six got sick at once and one died) that you have to keep on top of what's going in the food. We switched them all to a US made no China any product food and the difference has been tremendous. Even with that, we still call the companies every other month or so to be certain they are not using questionable products in the premix. This weekend we had a problem with two of them breathing. A quick listen with the stethoscope revealed rales and to the vet who asked if we had changed anything in the cats environment...yep, new litter. We were told that the litter we had chosen actually can create a deadly toxin when it gets wet and warm...So, new litter is in and all the cat boxes have been washed. Everyone is breathing well now.

  11. Kait, was it one of the "light" litters? I've heard those can make cats really sick. And you are so right. There is no such thing as a free cat OR dog.

    Karen, I had to laugh about your daughter's $4000 rock (although I do feel bad for her.) We have a friend with a chocolate lab and the dog ate EVERYTHING. And had multiple abdominal surgeries...

    Lynn Willis, my friend who has border collies, and works with border collie rescue, I'm sure would agree that a dog as smart as yours MUST be a border collie:-) Wonderful dogs!

  12. Since losing my fifteen-year-old Australian Cattledog mix last spring, I am without a fur friend. Abbie was such a sweet girl and the end was so sad and miserable for her. I was luck to have an amazing dog sitter who was always good with my girl and who helped me through the end. For the first time since I was in my early twenties, I don't have an animal or a child to arrange care for if I want to take a trip or stay over at my daughter's. I hate to admit it, but it's been kind of nice not to have to worry about those arrangements. However, I do miss having a sweet companion around, and I need one to make me get out and walk. When my husband retires, which will probably be within the next year, we will probably get another dog, and we can share the responsibilities (His job requires him to live in Kansas right now and only get home every 4-6 weeks). In the meantime, my daughter has a sweet pug that I enjoy, and my son has two dogs that I get to see from time to time.

    Lucy and Debs, I always love seeing pictures of Tonka and Jax and Jasmine. And, although I'm a dog rather than a cat person, the pictures of all of your sweet kitties are adorable. And, of course, I enjoy Evinrude so much, Lucy.

  13. Lynn, what an amazing story!

    My oldest daughter had a border collie, and that dog was so incredibly smart. He could actually understand spelled words, it was the darnedest thing.

    Debs, yeah, I'm afraid this dog is going to be more trouble. But he's a very sweet dog, other than his insatiable appetite for unsuitable objects. Shoes, underwear, mulch chips, whatever.

  14. We have Eliot, a little girl cat who was returned to the shelter twice. She has twenty-four toes and a grade 3 heart murmur. And a habit of jumping onto my head when I least expect it, never mind MY heart murmur. She is, of course, named for George Eliot. Then there is Toby, my Boy Prince, a pomapoo. He is ten and at one time played Toto in a huge production of you know what. He hit his mark every time and then stood patiently after each performance so the children could pet him. Hundreds of children. What a ham! Last come Penny Lane. She is almost three and let us know why little girl dog are called bitches. Penny is our $4,000 baby after having bilateral knee surgery last summer. Yikes. I adore them all and can't imagine being in a menagerie-free zone. Deb I started with a German shepherd, Maggie. She raised my children and was the smartest dog ever. Now I couldn't manage a big dog tho. Walking the wee ones is my daily meditation. And medication.

  15. I've got eight-pound Fawn "the Ears" Alber, a Chihuahua/wired-haired terrier mix. You say "Chihuahua" and people often have preconceived notions: yappy, shivery, weirdly aggressive-fearful. Nope, not Fawn, she's got a terrier personality. She's more social than I am :-), a total meet-and-greeter tail wagger.

    And then my fifteen pound dude, Trio the Cat, a Siamese mix of some sort. He's 12yo now, and going strong. He's a steady, purring kind of guy-cat. It cracks me up when I let him inside (he's in and out all day long--got me trained well). He walks like one of those old lions on the savannah, head slight hanging, a quiet alpha while Fawn's all over him, nipping his ears, licking at him, bumping into him -- he just walks on, ignoring her. He's definitely the boss.

    Cross fingers--both in great health. I'm convinced the raw-food diet I've had them on helps a lot.

  16. Yes, Deb, it was a light litter. Why do they allow that stuff on the market! Poor Missy (found on a snowdrift eating the squirrel corn the year we had 200" of snow) was literally gasping. We have oxygen in the plane and I do have a kitty mask. I thought I was going to have to administer it to her. Fortunately, it did not get that bad.

  17. Enjoying all the stories and photos of everyone's dogs and cats. We're a two-cat household at the moment, but I grew up with mostly dogs--one of which was an English shepherd--very similar to the border collie. She was the smartest dog we ever had and her best friend was a pig, with whom she shared a house.

  18. We have a $$$ yorkie named Mr. Cuddles. After a bout with pancreatitis, he became diabetic and blind, but is an absolutely amazing dog. He uses the doggie door, wanders around outside, but does not get lost, and he navigates the house like a pro -- no bumping into furniture like in the beginning. Mr. Cuddles has to get insulin shots and eyedrops twice a day, but he actually reminds us of when it's shot time (just like an alarm clock) because he gets to eat a little lean turkey while we are giving him the shots. I am amazed at the resiliency of dogs and how well he has adapted. He's 13 years old now and still feisty. Mr. Cuddles loves our other 2 dogs, Sophie (miniature Australian shepherd) and Jake (rescue dog), and keeps trying to remind them that he is the alpha dog~

  19. Sorry about the delay getting some of the pet pics up - I'm having the devil of a time with my wifi this morning. I swear the internet really is a series of tubes, and I'm at the butt end of a very long one.

    Karen, I have to laugh at the Zombie Dog. We have neighbors who had English Mastiffs. A sweet, good-tempered dog, but as a very large breed, they only tend to reach age seven - sometimes up to ten. Well, their last dog made it to thirteen! She was a mastiff Methuselah! Whenever anyone on our road would meet Ed walking Buttercup, the common greeting was, "That dog's not dead yet?"

  20. We have one dog right now, a 12-yr-old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named Marco. Luckily, he's amazingly healthy, with no signs of age except a stiff hip that sometimes fails him when he forgets his dignity and acts like a puppy. He still prances when he walks, and tugs me along when I don't make him heel. He can still chase squirrels and bunnies (to the end of his leash) with the best of them.

  21. My border terrier mix, Boo, is 13 years old. We got him as a rescue dog when he was 4. He has slowed down a lot as his kidneys are not functioning 100% and his back legs are giving out on him. He's on a special kidney diet so the food is not cheap. Duh. He doesn't care for it too much so we've found other things to feed him. Baked sweet potatoes. Watermelon. Pink grapefruit. No more cheese though. He still likes to walk to the pet=friendly bar a couple of blocks away to socialize. He is quite the chick magnet. Men like him too. He's the only dog we've had who insisted it was his right to sleep on the bed with us. Now we have to pick him up and put him on the bed at night. He also gets rides up and down the stairs as they are hard to manage now. He is a real joy and I'm afraid his days are definitely waning.

  22. oh my gosh, so glad I took a break and came back over--LOVED SEEING ALL THESE PETS! AND HEARING YOUR STORIES. (sorry, they deserve caps today.)

  23. My friend has a gsd that also had ibd. It must be more common in them these days. I grew up with them and remember our one pup could and would eat anything. Including the whole box when I was giving him a piece of pizza. My friends and I talk all the time about how the dogs we had when we were growing up could and would eat anything and now we buy special foods, get special supplements, give medicine and everything to our dogs. I am blessed with an amazing rescue dog Tyler who truly rescued me and my folks. I had lost my sweet service dog and partner Rufus(yorkie) and was not sure I would ever get another dog. Then Tyler came into our lives. He is so adorable. I say he is a mix of Rufus (my playful, yet hard working yorkie) and Sammie(my true gentleman that lived to be almost 21, was a mix breed that jumped in my car at a gas station and looks like a mix of Bernese mountain dog and Aussie). I truly believe the two of them got together and brought Tyler into our lives. So wonderful to read about and see all of your wonderful pets. Love the red fox!

  24. Oh, these photos are so fabulous! What a brilliant brilliant idea. So pleased to meet everyone!