2009 Walk for the Animals

This Saturday, Shane and I will be walking in the 14th Annual Walk for the Animals in support of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.  We adopted Mina from the AWLA, and the AWLA was very kind to us when Sid was so very sick.

I had a bit of a moral dilemma in writing this post and asking for donations for one reason: the AWLA isn’t a “no-kill” shelter.  In addition to being an animal shelter, they are also animal control for the county, so they take in all animals – sick, healthy, abandoned, surrendered, etc.  Having been in the facility a number of times in the last year – with Sid when she was so sick, again to pick up her ashes, buying various supplies for the cats, donating household items, looking for a new kitty, adopting Mina, and visiting other kitties when we were in the neighborhood – I can echo the comments of the reviewers on Yelp.  The AWLA is clean, staffed by kind and caring doctors and volunteers, and provides services like microchipping to the community.  Animals are kept in clean and comfortable cages, and are given lots of love and attention.  There are quiet areas for play and cuddling.

If you have spent any time with Shane and I, you know that we love our cats to pieces, and that we did everything we could for Sid when she was sick.  We volunteer for a no-kill shelter, and I feel conflicted about the fact that the shelter spends thousands of dollars on surgeries for individual cats – when that same amount of money could provide for the spaying or neutering of 80 cats at the AWLA.

It makes me sad that not every animal can be saved.   I did some looking around for information about no-kill shelters, and PETA reports that no-kill isn’t always the best option.  From PETA’s website: “Open-admission shelters are committed to keeping animals safe and off the streets and do not have the option of turning their backs on the victims of the overpopulation crisis as “no-kill” shelters do. No one despises the ugly reality of euthanizing animals more than the people who hold the syringe, but euthanasia is often the most compassionate and dignified way for unwanted animals to leave the world.”  I worry about the quality of life for the animals in either situation – kill or no-kill.

I choose to support both organizations with my time and money, because I believe both are doing the best they can.  I believe in the work that both are doing, and I believe they are both good causes.  I know that many animals have gone to wonderful homes.  I didn’t intend for this post to be about kill or no-kill shelters – but I felt like if we were asking for money, we should be up front about an aspect of shelters that some may be concerned about.

If you have a couple of extra bucks for a good cause, please consider supporting our team – Team Pettu – in this year’s Walk.   If you’re in the area, think about joining our team!  It was a nice way to spend an hour or two, even in the rain.

Thank you for considering a donation – and for supporting us!

P.S. If you have a couple of extra bucks for a good cause but would prefer to support people, please consider supporting our team for the Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure.  My friend Tina and I will be running as Team Helpful Paws.


A New Day

I would be lying if I said I was anything other than really, really sad right now. SB and I have spent the last two days – the last two and a half weeks, really – trying to keep busy and cheer each other up and avoid looking at all the spots where she loved to sit or sleep or absorb heat. She was so small – especially at the end – but her absence is enormous and tangible in our little apartment. I know it will get easier, and in some ways I think it started getting easier yesterday when we left the shelter, if only because we could stop worrying AND grieving AND hoping AND making decisions and instead focus on our grief and our memories. I put her tag on my key ring so that I’ll have a reminder of her every day.

Earlier in the month I made my resolutions for 2008, but I’ve since revised them somewhat. I haven’t checked last year’s list to see how poorly I did (and it was poorly), but I’ll do that soon. My list for 2008:

1. Read two books for pleasure each month.
2. See 12 movies in the theatre.
3. Take a trip west of the Mississippi (and also west of Iowa).
4. Go to Bonnaroo or Coachella.
5. Put $5,000 in savings by the end of the year (sub item: and leave it there).
6. Finish Couch to 5K and run a 5K.
7. Continue weight training and do an unassisted pull up.
8. Finish my CAS.
9. Get published.
10. Find a church.
11. Reconsider therapy and/or medication.
12. Beat SB at Zooloretto or Alhambra.
13. Finish 2007’s Bond-watching resolution.

I guess most of these are more like action items than resolutions, but that’s probably better anyway. I really enjoy checking things off lists. A final item:

14. Bring a new friend into our family.

We don’t want to replace Sid, but there’s a huge gaping hole in our lives without her, and we don’t want Basil to forget that other animals, especially other cats, are nice. Things feel oddly off balance with just one.

Sid is gone

We took her to the animal shelter this morning because we couldn’t get in to see our vet until Thursday. She had basically stopped eating and drinking, and the color of her urine indicated that her kidneys were shutting down. She was falling when she tried to get onto or off of things, and was doing a scary panting thing whenever we picked her up.

Everyone at the shelter was very nice and gave us as much time as we needed before, during, and afterwards. They had to give her a tranquilizer because she fought them for the injection, but after that she could barely hold her head up. We pet her and comforted her until she was gone, and then held each other and just sobbed.

Sid, wherever you are, we love you very much and are so grateful that you shared our lives, even if it was just for a little while.

Sid update

So here’s what we know:

  • Her weight and bloodwork are exactly the same as they were on Thursday.
  • She has a low fever.
  • In the x-rays, her lungs were “foggy”. This is unusual in a young cat but would be seen in an asthmatic cat.
  • She ate about 15 treats at the vet.

The vet is concerned that it is FIP – but we basically don’t know anything beyond that. We don’t know if it is FIP, and we don’t know if she’s going to get better or worse. We don’t know when she’s going to get better or worse. All we really know is that she’s sick, and the best we can do by her is encourage her to eat, give her medicine, and cuddle her as much as possible. Thank you for your prayers – we’re not out of the woods yet.

This morning I thought things were looking up – she showed some interest in food, waiting and meowing like she normally does, but ate little. Every few hours we’ve been waking her up, putting her in front of a dish of bacon or salami or kibble or chicken broth, hoping that something will pique her interest enough for just a couple of bites. She seems more alert and marginally stronger – at least when she’s fighting us as we try to pill her.

We’ve already canceled our New Years plans and most of our holiday travel. SB will be visiting his family for a couple of days, and when he gets back, I’ll be going to Illinois solo unless we can work something out between airfare and pet sitting.

I’m a big mess of sad and scared and disappointed and resentful and worried and heartbroken and a bunch of other things I can’t really articulate. This has been such a hard year, and I don’t want it to end with losing my small cat. I hope that isn’t too much to ask.

Sickie baby

Day 6 -7/29/07

Shane and I spent three hours at the vet last night with Sid. Her appetite has been down dramatically in the last two weeks, and the last few days she’s been lethargic and stuffy and sneezy.

She’s lost more than 1lb since March, which is a lot when you only weigh 7 lbs to begin with. The vet did blood work, and she’s dangerously anemic – almost to the point of needing a transfusion. The test for feline HIV and feline leukemia came back negative, but the latter can be a false negative, and the only way to know for sure is from a bone marrow sample.

What we’re hoping is that she responds to antibiotics, in which case it’s bacterial, and we’ll do a couple more tests to allow the vet to target her meds. They sent us home with two aggressive antibiotics and an appetite stimulant, and we’re pushing food on her at regular intervals.

If she doesn’t show improvement in a few days, it’s probably feline infectious peritonitis. There’s no cure or treatment, and once a cat starts showing symptoms, the end will come quickly. If it’s FIP, a transfusion would only buy her days.

While we were waiting for more lab results and holding our tiny sickie cat, a 40-something guy came out of one of the exam rooms, just shaking all over after having his little dog put to sleep. We heard him sobbing – not even sobbing – I don’t even know how to describe the noises coming from the room other than a howl of sadness. He kept going back into the room and looking at his little dog, so sad and small and still on the table.

Sid slept next to me all night last night, her tiny little body curled into mine. I barely slept at all, though she appeared to sleep deeply. This morning she was interested in her food, though she didn’t eat much. I’m going home at 1 and working from home on Monday so that I can be with her to help with meds – and adjust to the idea that if things don’t improve quickly, we will have tough decisions to make.

It’s been a hard year, and having a funny little cat waiting for me at home has been one of the few things that consistently has kept me happy and smiling. Please keep her in your prayers, if you’re so inclined.

good things

Thanksgiving has come and gone, though it has been much celebrated around these parts. My family’s most unique tradition is Turkey Notes, which are small rhyming poems written on each guest’s placecard. The poems are almost always eye-rollingly silly, but my family loves them, so we continue to do them, year after year. This year mine was about Sid, and Shane’s was about Herky. With my friends, however, we usually go around the table and list the things for which we’re thankful. I haven’t had a chance to share that list yet this year, so here, in no particular order, are a handful of things for which I’m thankful:

  • ShaneB and all the joy and good things he’s brought into my life this year
  • a great job that I love, even if some days are very hard
  • my family and an awesome crew of friends
  • the impending end of the semester
  • Project Runway and Tim Gunn
  • veggie breakfast sausage
  • Basil’s safe return, and the advent of Sid
  • We love Katamari
  • yellowbike (and maybe RAGBRAI in the new year??)
  • my healing arm
  • Bonnaroo

What are you thankful for?

Basil came home! We went to bed Friday night feeling sad and dejected and hopeless – our bed felt very empty without Basil trying to squeeze his way between the two of us. We left the screen door propped open, with a dish of food in the entry way and the cat door also open in hopes that Basil would miraculously come home. When I finally got to sleep, I dreamt that we found Basil’s broken collar. A number of our other friends also dreamt about looking for Basil.

At 5:30, we woke to Basil jumping into our bed. I have never seen Shane so excited or relieved. It was like the best Christmas ever multiplied by the best birthday ever for him. He hugged Basil so closely, and Basil was just like, what?. Basil’s a little dirty and smells like oil and leaves, but other than a little cut on his belly, he seems fine.

Even better, he’s interacting relatively nicely with Sid! We let the two of them meet yesterday, and Basil, while still hissy, has been very good with the baby. He’s mainly been acting like a grumpy babysitter, following her around and occasionally playing with her. We’re sooooo relieved and happy that they’re getting along.

In addition, and as Shane mentioned, many thanks to all of our friends who helped us search for Basil when he was lost – and to those who extended positive thoughts and prayers. Basil’s absence would have been much more worrying had we not had an awesome group of people helping out.


A couple of months ago, SB lamented the fact that we rarely get to go do awesome spontaneous fun things because we’re so busy with school, work, and other obligations. We did a lot of fun, awesome things this summer, but once school started, we got back into a rut of staying in on the weekends, doing homework, and watching Law & Order (not that there’s anything wrong with that. We ❤ Lennie.). I asked Shane if he trusted me enough to commit to going away for a weekend with me without any knowledge of where we were going or what we’d be doing. He said yes, and the Top Secret Weekend Adventure was marked down on our calendars.

For weeks, I dropped hints (mostly false) about our destination, some more obvious than others. I told him a number of times that we were going to trapeze camp, though my broken arm made that less believable. Shane was pretty convinced that we were going to Madison – or at least Wisconsin. He was wrong!

On Friday, I took a half day off work, and we left mid-afternoon, en route to Iowa City, though Shane was still in the dark on our destination. After about 15 minutes, I couldn’t stand it any longer and handed over a map of the Herkys on Parade. I think he was initially disappointed, but when I told him about all the Herkys, as well as the other things we could do, he perked up a bit.

We spent three nights at the Mission House Bed and Breakfast – a Mission-style house with original Arts and Crafts interiors relatively undamaged after a long history of use as grad student rental property. The owners were courteous, thoughtful, and polite – and made killer breakfasts. We were within walking distance of the downtown area, so we spent most of the weekend walking around, shopping, eating, taking pictures, and visiting family. We had really amazing tapas, tried on $800 glasses, sampled beer in the Amanas, shopped at a fantastic co-op, and fell in love with a kittem, who caused our return home to be delayed by half a day as we waited for the adoption paperwork to be approved.

Shane didn’t see as many Herkys as he would’ve liked, but we had a wonderful weekend, and completely fell in love with the town. It’s a lot more cosmopolitan – and hilly – than I’d remembered – all of which are good things. My family has been trying to get me (and my siblings) to move there for years, and after this weekend, I can definitely say I’d consider it. Most of all, though, it was wonderful to just get away together without having to worry about school, work, or responsibility – to simply be able to enjoy each other’s company, whether it was during a drawn-out meal, a chilly walk, or a late afternoon nap.

Meet Sid, our new friend from Iowa City. She’s pretty spazzy, but we like her a lot.

We’re home from our Top Secret Weekend Adventure less a bunch of money spent on amazing food, a terrific bed and breakfast, some Christmas shopping, and a new kittem. Iowa City (my top secret destination of choice) was fantastic, and I’ll post more tomorrow. For right now, I’m busy keeping up with our new friend, who has razor claws and insists on spazzing out at somewhat constant intervals.