Archive for the 'Animals' Category

Farewell, Freyr

It is with very heavy hearts that Chad and I say goodbye to our little boy-cat, Freyr.

In the summer of 2000, we were looking for a kitten that could handle two ferrets (Fidget & Hotspur) while keeping Ghost company. As luck would have it, my friend Steph just happened to have a bunch of kittens. We wanted to see how the kittens would react to the ferrets, so we let Fidget & Hotspur pick out the newest member of the family.  I’ll never forget how the kittens spilled out everywhere when Steph opened the carrier. The ferrets went crazy chasing the little furballs and the kittens went bananas trying to get away. Except the red tabby kitten with hints of platinum, who would shortly be named Freyr. He wasn’t exactly brave, but he wasn’t freaking out and trying to get away. He was the one.

Upon being presented with her little brother, Ghost exhibited the typical disdain she kept for any new cat we would bring home in the ensuing years. The ferrets though, they loved the new toy in their life. Poor Freyr. Poor handsome, soft, red tabby Freyr. He was dragged under the sofa and stashed so many times. Our little boy just cried and squealed and, fortunately for him, soon became too big to be stashed. He was exactly what we needed.

One Spring Freyr became “Momma” Freyr to a litter of feral kittens that were born under our pine tree. Ghost wanted nothing to do with the little heathens. But Freyr, oh he heard their cries and came barreling down to see what the Hell we were doing to those babies. They were not sure of us humans, but they took to Freyr immediately as he set about bathing them and taking care of them. They were his. One of those kittens would stay with us, Freyr’s baby Seti. And woe be it to anyone who upset her. He took care of his baby Seti until we lost her.

At the time Freyr came to us, we lived in a small house. It had three rooms on the first floor. We would be in the living room and out of nowhere, Freyr would start crying, as if to say, “Where are you guys?”  We’d call for him and eventually he’d find us and stop crying. We started saying Freyr was lost any time he cried like that. He got lost a lot. We never said he was brilliant, but he was soft and loving and that was enough for us. Among Freyr’s other hobbies, besides getting lost in a tiny house, included demanding to go out in the back yard so he could eat plants, sitting high up on whatever was available, and walking on a leash. Unlike every other pet we have ever had, we could put the ridiculous hot pink harness (bought for Ghost) on him and he would walk around on a leash better than most dogs I know. We could walk him around the block and he’d go, tail held straight up, swaggering like a tiger. He gave no cares whatsoever.

Freyr, for some unknown reason hated dogs. And he was willing to try to rid the world of their presence, one at a time. One of the best Freyr stories, the one that I always think of, is this. We were babysitting Mom’s rottweiler Major. Now Major lived with cats and ferrets and was just a happy (big) dog. I had just come home and was bringing Major inside with me. I walked into the dining room. She was on my left. I looked into the living room – the french doors were open and I could see Chad on the sofa also to my left – and suddenly this: Chad shouting loudly, Freyr flying through the air towards me and Major; legs extended, claws flexed, tail puffed up and straight and screaming like a banshee! I grabbed Major and sorta hipchecked her into the kitchen and shut the door. Freyr landed, all puffed up and making some seriously insane noises. His fur was shedding and floating all over. I started yelling at Chad for throwing Freyr. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He hadn’t thrown Freyr. When Freyr saw Major in HIS house, he used Chad’s thigh (now bleeding from claw wounds) as a launching pad for his flying attack on the dog. Yep. Nine pound Freyr was going after 100+ pounds of (clueless) dog.  Major was just the first in a long line of canines Freyr went after during his 15 years. He tortured Harper, Deanna’s happy go lucky dog, quietly threatening poor Harper who was in a crate. It wasn’t until Harper’s howling got someone out of bed that Freyr was found out. And as soon as my friend Kim’s little miniature schnauzer Lexie walked into our house, Freyr was ready to turn her into pup nuggets. Freyr may have been 9 pounds, but he saw himself as a big red tiger. One of his last acts was to threaten a little white fluffy dog with grievous bodily harm. That was our boy.

So we bid our little boy cat a fond farewell. Fifteeen years is a long time, but it wasn’t really long enough. We thought he’d be around a lot longer. You were the good boy, Freyr. We’ll miss you.

 

chris on July 9th 2015 in Animals, Family

Seti – Aka ‘The Bug’

It is with very heavy hearts that we bid our beautiful, fluffy, loving little Seti goodbye. 

It was a frantic “MEW!” that caught our attention that Spring morning in 2002. Chad & I were on Grandma Utt’s back porch. “MEW!!!” That’s all it took, Chad was off scrambling through the hedgerow towards the source of the cry. And there, rather stuck, under the shrubbery in the empty lot next door, was a tiny black ball of fur. She purred loudly when Chad picked her up. 

We knew where this lost, matted, covered in burs, little one had come from. Her litter had been born under our pine tree around Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, we had no idea where the rest of her family was now. So we took her home. She purred like a freight train and was so loving, we assumed someone had found the nest of kittens and had been handling them. As we later discovered, much to our chagrin, when trying to trap the rest of her litter, that was not the case. It was just her. She was just a loving little bug. 

At the time we had two cats and we figured that Ghost, once a momma cat herself, would take to this poor pathetic little baby. Boy were we wrong. She looked at the kitten and I swear rolled her eyes at us before stalking off. Freyr, our boy cat, took one look at the mewling little thing, flipped her over and got to the business of cleaning her up. Apparently we’d found a momma substitute. From then on out, if Seti cried, Freyr came running. And woe be it to whatever upset his little girl.

Under the watchful eye of “momma” Freyr, Seti (and the rest of the litter) grew into happy, well behaved kittens. While we found the others homes, Seti stayed with us and grew into a beautiful, soft, loving, and not so bright, ball of fur. 

One weekend Deanna, Rob & Harper the Dog came to visit. Standard protocol was for us to herd our three cats upstairs before Harper arrived as he was a bit too bouncy & enthusiastic for the cats.  Harper ran bounding to the back of the house, skidded to a stop and barked, “Arf!” He was looking at a box, from which emitted a deep, fearsome growl. Quicker than any of us could move, Harper decided to investigate with his head. “Arf?” he barked as he pulled back wearing Seti as a hat! She was growling deeply and drumming her paws on his head for all she was worth! 

Most days our little Bug-Bug was content to stealthily appear on our laps and get pets. Or sit by the door and smell the great outdoors – she NEVER showed any interest in actually experiencing the outdoors, I suspect her early traumatic experience put her off that! She could easily have taken the Alpha Cat spot in our house because she was longer and bigger than the others, but I don’t think that thought ever crossed her mind. The parade of ferrets through our house never phased her, she would tolerate the ear cleanings and chasing. Seti was simply content living the good life full of love & contentment and plenty of pounce treats. 


Godspeed little one. We’ll miss you. 

chris on April 1st 2014 in Animals, Family

Liver.

I went to the grocery in search of chicken liver. There was none. There hasn’t been any at either of the two locations of the store at which I shop. In fact, the spot where chicken liver belongs – it’s in the freezer section quite near the fake meat – is no longer there. It’s as if little tubs of chicken liver never existed.

Now personally, I find the idea of liver of any sort repugnant. But the liver isn’t for me, it’s for the ferrets; they love it. Well, two of them the love it. Our dainty little girl Fionnlaugh finds chicken liver to be off putting. I can’t say I blame her, honestly.

Anyway, back to the chicken liver. Loving husband suggested that since chicken liver was not to be had that I give beef liver a shot. Maybe it tastes like chicken, or chicken liver. I was willing to give it a shot. So I purchased a thing of beef liver.

Unlike the tub of chicken liver though, the beer liver is in heat sealed plastic. It’s sitting on the floor of my car. I did the self-checkout and didn’t get a bag. I hate the plastic grocery store bags because I’m responsible for making sure they get recycled. Usually I bring my own bag. But today I did not. Oh well.

I did my liver run at lunch. And, as I said, the slabs of liver are sitting on the floor of my car. I park in a climate controlled garage. I’m slightly concerned that by 5:00 pm it is going to be well along the path to melty goodness. Oh well, l’ll just consider that one step saved.

I’ve been thinking about just plopping down a slab of the beef liver on a plate and see what the ferrets do. On the other hand, I don’t want little bloody ferret prints all over their room. Also, I don’t want to have to give them a bath. And mostly, I don’t want to have a slab of beef liver drug around the house.

 

UPDATE:

Despite the fact that Shadowfax freaked out with eagerness while I was cutting up the beef liver, she and Duncan categorically rejected it. I tried to feed it to the cats. They also categorically rejected it.

(Also, it had completely defrosted in the car and the heat seal of the package wasn’t so awesome. There may have been some blood on my floor mat. )

 

UPDATE to the UPDATE:

I found more chicken liver at a different purveyor of groceries. I bought four tubs. And a gallon of milk. The milk was for us.

chris on March 12th 2014 in Animals

Baby Penguins

Right before we headed home from our Christmas visit to Palmyra, Chad discovered that the National Aviary in Pittsburgh was showing off it’s two newly hatched baby penguins! There was no way in the world I was missing to opportunity to see A) Penguins and B) Baby Penguins! So off we went the next day.

The baby penguins were brown balls of fluffy adorableness.

It was difficult to get a photo without reflection and, in case you couldn’t tell, baby penguins are like other babies…messy. Still, they were so cute. The one was just tuckered out and we never did see it stand up. The other one would look around, take a big breath and then it’s little eyes would close and it’s head would drop.  Judging by the crowd around the window every time we passed by, the baby penguins were a huge success.

There were tons of other birds as well – it being an aviary it kind of made sense. The grasslands room was our first experience with a room full of birds flying wherever they pleased. And believe me, they were whipping around us like mad!

In the wetlands room I had the opportunity to feed two pelicans. They were greedy buggers.

Chad checked out an adorable little  Burrow Owl while waiting to watch the penguins have lunch.

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Ping got to meet some cousins,

While I chatted with this little fellow in the water.

It was a great day!

chris on January 17th 2014 in Animals, Travel