Caturday: Staring into the Abyss

Shortly before leaving for Blog Paws I realized something.  Morph was having a hard time getting around, didn’t quite seem to know where he was at times (he’d almost gone out the back door by accident), and wasn’t interacting as much.  The wide eyes in full bright light up in the picture might give you an idea of what happened.  Morph had gone blind, at least mostly.

It seemed like a sudden onset as I only noticed him bumbling around the house a few days before, but his sight may well have been deteriorating for some time.  He’s had episodes of piteous, soul shattering yowling at night for months.  I’ve not been sure what to make of this, other than being damned annoyed by it. Now a plausible explanation seems that he was disoriented in the dark and didn’t know where he was. Knowing this has only made the yowling a tad less annoying.  During the day he had enough light to get around. Now even full daylight isn’t enough.

There had been concern about his blood pressure before, eventually finding normal results, but now the vet’s working theory is there have been spikes in blood pressure that have done damage to the insanely fine and delicate blood vessels in his eyes.  She put him on a blood pressure medication in hopes that will take some pressure off the delicate vessels and give them a chance to heal, maybe giving him some of his sight back.   It’s a human medication in a tiny pill and he needs to take it at cat doses, so I have to force a quarter of a tiny pill down the throat of a handicapped cat every morning.

He may not see well, but he can still look resentful.

Recovery is no sure thing though, but over the last couple of weeks he’s been on the medication his eyes seem to have gotten much more responsive to bright light.  He’s not seeing perfectly, he’s mistaken Hershey on the couch for me on a couple of occasions and neither of us are having fun getting the tiny pills down his throat each day, but he’s doing OK.  Cats are built for operating in the dark, and now that it’s not as dark for him as it had been he seems more like his old self.

Caturday: Staring into the Abyss

Pet Loss Prevention Month

Large brown dog, small tan dog, and small black dog staring intently into the camera.

Appropriately the month with The Worst Holiday for Pets (at least in the U.S.) is also Pet Loss Prevention Month.  Yes, many animals do go missing during the fireworks of July 4th but (‘duh’ alert) pets can go missing any time during the year for many reasons (duh.)

There are a number of things people can do to help their pets get back home safely if they do get lost.  I’m sure any reader of pet blogs knows the basics but just as a formality (and to have some bullet points) I’ll reiterate them. Continue reading “Pet Loss Prevention Month”

Pet Loss Prevention Month

Independence Day Traditions

In the U.S. Independence Day, more commonly referred to as The Fourth of July, is a pretty big deal.  It’s the official date that our country (though not our present form of government) started and it’s also in the middle of summer and a great time for a party!

In years past I’ve gone to cookouts, and fireworks shows, and enjoyed them as much as an introvert can enjoy large crowds and loud noises.  Then I got a dog.  With their far more sensitive hearing, dogs enjoy fireworks shows about as much as humans enjoy being repeatedly struck on the back of the head with a meat mallet.  Since Hershey came into my life in 2010 I haven’t been to see fireworks once.  I still go to family cookouts, eat, visit, and hightail it back home before dark when the fireworks start.

Where I live, in one of the most drought stricken parts of California, it is inexplicably possible to buy fireworks from stands that pop up on vacant lots the week before the Fourth.  This allows families all around the neighborhood to have their own fireworks displays so they can enjoy Independence Day and mess with the mental health of local animals.  This is tradition for many people and so, since getting dogs, I have had to come up with traditions of our own.

Tradition One:  I’m always there for them.  When it gets dark and the fireworks and firecrackers start up, I’m at home to be their rock.  We are the cornerstones of our dogs’ lives and during what could be the worst night of the year for them, I feel that mine need me to guide them.

Tradition Two:  Stay calm.  When the noise starts I don’t react.  I don’t show annoyance or get upset.  Dogs have had 20,000 years to get to know us, and by this time they can read us like two-legged, hairless books.  If they see that I’m not bothered by all the noise outside, they know they don’t have to be either.

Tradition Three:  Hibernation.  When things really get going outside, we take our evening to the bedroom.  I close the door, we settle in, and I do something calm and ordinary like reading a book.  They lay on the bed, and doze.

Tradition Four:  Music. I play something light, and about middle volume to help muffle the outside noise.

All this seems to work!  Hershey has been calm during fireworks every year I’ve had her.  Graham was a little concerned the first year, but following these traditions his ears might perk up a little when things start but after that he’s as calm as Hershey.

Last year was Marsha’s first time, and it was effecting her.  She was one solid tremble, but she came up with a tradition of her own.  She snuggled under the covers and after that she was fine!

This year, I’m hoping our traditions continue to work and everyone gets through the night with no, or minimal problems.

What do you do to help your dogs through this difficult day?  What days in other countries are the worst for dogs?  I’d love to know!

(Oh, anyone wondering about my cats should know that they barely register that the outside exists and have never shown any distress over fireworks!  Maybe this has even helped with the dogs!)

Independence Day Traditions