Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wild Wiggles

In honor of International Cat Day, I would like to share the story of Wiggles.  It was a snowy day in March (hey, it's the Midwest) when I received a frantic call from a former co-worker.

"Lauren, I found a pregnant cat.  She is the sweetest thing ever and I want to keep her, but my husband is terribly allergic.  Can you help?" she sobbed.

I could already hear my husband's voice in my head:  "NO!"  I soon found myself driving in a blinding snow storm to meet my friend in the parking lot of the local Shop n' Save.  She and her daughter had red faces and running noses, not from the cold, but because they were that concerned about the cat and her safety.

They graciously provided me with some supplies.  I secured the confused feline in the backseat and started rehearsing the speech I would give my husband as we headed home.  Thankfully, we have a room that is next to our house (a former barber shop) where the cat could stay until we found out more about her health.

I made an appointment at our vet early the next morning.  The kitty traveled very well in the car and I never heard a peep.  Unlike our cats that howl like crazy the moment you take them outside.

Our vet loved her, but had a difficult time handling her.

"She's very wiggly," the vet said.

And so she became Wiggles.  I waited patiently as our vet took Wiggles to the back to do a blood draw.  This reminded me of the very first kitten that we ever rescued.  Miracle was just two weeks old when we found her in the middle of Main Street.  I was very familiar with all of the tests and numerous appointments we had to make to ensure she would be a healthy cat.

My heart sank when the vet returned with grim news:  Wiggles was FIV positive.  This was definitely going to hinder the ways that I could care for her.  We already have three cats of our own.  I knew that she would have to be kept separated so that our cats didn't contract FIV from her saliva or scratching.

I was treated to something very special.  I got to see Wiggles' ultrasound being performed!  The vet proudly pointed to three tiny kittens on the screen.  She did tell me that one kitten looked very small and said it probably wouldn't survive.  There is no way of telling if the kittens would also be FIV positive or if they were too far along for the disease to affect them.

She told me I had three options:  euthanize Wiggles, spay Wiggles and kill the kittens, or take Wiggles home and help deliver the babies.  This was obviously a no-brainer.  I then received a crash course in birthing kittens.

Wiggles settled in quickly.  She loved rolling over for belly rubs and was thrilled to have a steady source of food.  Weeks flew by and she continued to get larger and larger.

One day, Wiggles started pacing in her cage.  I looked down at the towel I had placed inside and noticed a spot of blood.  The kittens were coming!

My husband was at work and I was all alone.  Thankfully, I had my supply kit and The Complete Guide to Cats book by the ASPCA.  I said a prayer and moved Wiggles into her cardboard birthing box.

The sweet and loving cat that I had come to know suddenly turned into the Cujo of the cat world.  She was hissing and constantly trying to escape the box.  I did my best to keep her contained.

Wiggles finally settled down and I noticed a tiny pink tail and feet beneath her.  She began licking the kitten...but it didn't move.  Sadly, this was the stillborn kitten that the vet had warned me about.  Its legs were malformed and its little eyes never opened.  My heart broke as I took the baby away from Wiggles.

That was to be the only kitten she would birth.  The next day, I took her to the vet where she had a C-section.  I received a call later that afternoon that they had successfully delivered one kitten.  My heart broke even further as I wondered what happened to the second kitten.  Truthfully, I didn't want to ask.

As I walked into the vet's office later that afternoon, I was greeted by one of the vet technicians.

"So, Wiggles is rejecting her kitten," she said.

What?!  Rejecting her kitten?  How?  Why?

I asked if Wiggles was merely swiping with her paw or actually trying to bite the baby.

"She's biting," the vet tech breathed.

I told her that we were stocked up on KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and had bought brand new nursing bottles in preparation for the kittens' arrival.  They handed me the crate containing the unhappy new mom and a Styrofoam box that held the smallest kitten I had ever seen in my life.




Baby Addy loves to snuggle.


My husband fell in love the moment that he saw the tiny bundle of fur sleeping on the towel.  He immediately volunteered to take the first round of bottle feeding.  This had to be done every two hours to assure that the baby would get all of the nutrients she needed to grow properly.

I decided to be brave the following day and re-introduced Wiggles to the kitten I had named Adeline (Addy for short).  Thankfully, Wiggles began licking Addy's fur and didn't object to nursing.  Our best guess is that Wiggles had still been in pain from the C-section when the vet staff had tried to get Addy to nurse and that her tiny little claws were making Wiggles feel less than comfortable.

Addy grew like a weed.  Her favorite thing to do was eat and her belly soon became round and pudgy.  My heart swelled as I watched Wiggles playing with Addy.  There is just something about the sight of a mother bonding with her daughter no matter the species.



Wiggles nursing Addy.





Addy loves her Grumpy Cat toy!


Four months had passed.  It was time to take Wiggles and Addy back to the vet to be re-tested for FIV.  My stomach turned as my husband and I sat in the waiting room.  I didn't want to give either of them up, but I also didn't want to risk the health of my established cats either.

The vet soon delivered the news.  Wiggles was still FIV positive.  Addy tested negative.

While I was saddened by Wiggles' results, I was thrilled with Addy's.  After much pleading on my part, my husband agreed that we could keep Addy as long as her test results were good.

I thought that we were in the clear...until the vet said that she wants to re-test Addy again in September to make sure that she's really negative.  In the meantime, Addy is to be kept away from our cats AND away from Wiggles.

This presented a great challenge.  Wiggles and Addy were already inhabiting the only space in our home that could be truly isolated.  My husband worked out a temporary solution until we could find a forever home for Wiggles.

Being known in my community as a resource for all things pet related, I began searching through my binder of shelters and rescue groups.  I was specifically looking for places designated as no-kill.  Wiggles is such a sweet cat and she doesn't deserve to be killed for having a condition.

The first shelter I called thanked me for everything that we've done for Wiggles and Addy, but said that they were full.  I went through my entire binder and was either told that there were no vacancies or (more often) that the shelters didn't accept FIV positive cats.

I'll admit, I was outraged.  My husband and I just visited an animal shelter in Houston, Texas that specifically has an FIV cat room.  How could places that claim to be advocates for homeless animals shun those that are truly in need?

I will continue my quest to find an outstanding rescue where Wiggles will be well cared for and, hopefully, find a loving forever home.




Addy (left) relaxes with Wiggles (right).


Wiggles has taught me so much about life and love.  I am honored that my former co-worker chose me to help Wiggles in her time of need.  When I look at Addy, I will forever be reminded of Wiggles and the wonderful five months that we spent together.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Just Me, Wrigley Book Review

Just Me, Wrigley, the third installment in the Furever Home Friends series by Savy Leiser, follows one special pooch on her quest for a forever home.  Wrigley is starting to notice that she's different from the other dogs. 

She's not athletic like her friend Frank or delicate and dainty like her pal Fluffy.  Wrigley loves to dance!  Still, her moves have yet to impress potential adopters. 

One day, Wrigley's dreams come true.  She becomes a surprise Christmas present for a young boy.  Instead of being delighted, the boy is disappointed.  He doesn't care for Wrigley's dancing and was hoping for a Dalmatian.

A sad and confused Wrigley is returned to the shelter.  She tries to be more like the other dogs, but nothing seems to work.  Her paws are too big to be dainty.  Her coordination is too poor to make her a star athlete.  Will Wrigley ever find a family that loves her just the way she is?

I love this book!  The story is filled with humor and heart.  I fell in love with Wrigley from page one and rooted for her throughout.

Being a pet parent to five rescue dogs, I can definitely relate to the breed prejudice that many shelter dogs are subjected to.  Instead of viewing each dog as an individual and seeing if his/her personality is a good match, many people are more concerned about designer breeds, coat colors, and whether or not the pup is already trained.

Several of my dogs were returned to the shelter for "behavioral issues" that my husband and I have yet to see.  It is truly heartbreaking knowing that so many wonderful animals are treated like disposable objects.

The illustrations are whimsical and fun.  Leiser uses a combination of hand drawn images with mixed media pieces to create truly stunning artwork.  Every turn of the page is a surprise that is sure to delight readers.

This book is perfect for animal lovers of all ages.  I can definitely see this book being used as part of the humane education curriculum in animal shelters and rescue groups across the country.




Pet Rescue Rx Online Pharmacy Review

Being a pet parent is amazing.  The love that these bundles of fur give is beyond compare.  However, pet parenthood isn't just about the snuggles and walkies.

As more dogs joined our pack, the cost of their flea, tick, and heart worm preventative increased.  These pups definitely need to be protected, but the prices at veterinarian offices have skyrocketed.  A six month supply of Advantage Multi costs almost $100...per pack!

Our 15 year old Chihuahua developed anxiety last October after suddenly going blind due to glaucoma and now has to take anti-anxiety pills every day.  He also takes medication for arthritis in his back.  Hope, our blind and deaf double dapple Dachshund, has an extreme grass allergy that keeps her scratching all night if not medicated.  She also needs to take a low dose of Melatonin to help regulate her sleep cycle since she can't see or hear.

The cost of the medications and preventatives is staggering.  I quickly took to the Internet to find a more cost effective solution.  My search brought me to the Pet Rescue Rx website.  I love the variety of products that they offer.  From vitamins and supplements to syringes and first aid kits, they truly are a one stop shop.







What I like even more than their inventory is their dedication to animal shelters and rescue groups across the country.  All of the profits from each product purchase go directly to the shelter/rescue of the customer's choosing.  I was thrilled to see Stray Rescue St. Louis among the options listed. 

Founder Glenn Buckley, DVM, knows the needs of the animals that are in his care on a daily basis.  Yet, he hasn't forgotten the shelter animals that have touched his life on his journey to become a veterinarian.  Buckley is always reminded of the constant demand that shelters and rescue groups have for food, toys, medical supplies, etc.

Seeking to take the burden of continuous fundraising away from dedicated shelter staff and volunteers, he created Pet Rescue Rx.  Buckley remains true to his motto of "a pets before profits pharmacy."  He receives no compensation from the site.  To date, the pharmacy has donated over $100,000 to 500 plus shelters and rescues.

I have personally used this pharmacy for over five years.  I love their prices and the ability to give back to a local rescue (especially one that I also volunteer for).  My orders always arrive in a timely manner and I never have to worry about my pets not being protected due to product cost.

The ordering process is seamless.  Simply create an account and then add each of your pets.  Provide the name of your veterinarian and then select your product.  When you head to the checkout, you will be prompted to select which animal shelter/rescue group you would like your product purchase funds to be allotted to.  Now, sit back and enjoy the feeling of knowing that you've just helped animals in need while taking care of your own.

As a pet parent to five rescue dogs and three cats, I highly recommend this online pharmacy.  Their compassion and dedication to helping animals is truly amazing. 

To learn more about the pharmacy and the products that they offer, visit their official website at:  https://www.petrescuerx.com/index.cfm?

   

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Exclusive Book Cover Reveal!

Today, The Furever Home Friends is revealing the cover for their new book, Just Me, Wrigley! See the cover below!






Wrigley loves to dance. She can shake her tail all over the animal shelter. But for some people, Wrigley’s rhythm isn’t enough. Wrigley is a mutt; she doesn’t know what breed she is. While others come to the shelter looking for schnauzers, labs, and Dalmatians, Wrigley wonders when it will be her turn. Can Wrigley find the confidence to stay true to herself and dance her way into a forever home?

Like with all Furever Home Friends books, 10% of this book’s profits will benefit no-kill animal shelters!

Just Me, Wrigley is currently available for preorder on fureverhomefriends.com, and will officially release on Amazon on Saturday, August 11!


What do you think of the cover? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Having Hope Always T-Shirt Campaign

Hope is one very special ween.  She is a mini double dapple dachshund.  The product of a backyard breeder, Hope was born without eyes and is completely deaf.  When the breeder discovered Hope's disabilities, he wanted to kill her.  Thankfully, the man's wife stepped in and claimed Hope as her own.

Several years later, the wife passed away.  The breeder then surrendered Hope to Dachshund Rescue North America with a choke chain around her neck.  The rescue quickly found a loving foster family for Hope where she flourished.

A fated Internet search for dachshunds brought me to Hope's photo.  I knew immediately that she was the doxie for me.  I hurriedly completed the adoption application and the rest is history.

Hope is feisty, fearless, and a never-ending source of inspiration.  She doesn't let anything hold her back from living her best life.






Hope is known to her Facebook and Instagram followers as the Queen Ween.  She definitely rules our hearts!

We have created a t-shirt campaign to help raise awareness about double dapples while also shedding light on the importance of adopting differently-abled animals.

To order your shirt, simply click on the link:  https://www.customink.com/fundraising/having-hope-always-campaign







We will be donating 20% of the profits raised from the sale of the shirts to Dachshund Rescue North America, the very rescue that saved Hope's life.  Please help us spread the word that being differently-abled doesn't mean disabled!

Meow Meetup Chicago Review

I have a confession to make.  I had never heard of Meow Meetup before, even though I'm a self-proclaimed conference expert.  From BarkWorld to BlogPaws, I thought I knew about all of the events that are geared towards pet lovers as well as pet care professionals.

While attending the Cat Writers' Association conference a few months back, a fellow attendee inquired if I had ever gone to the meetup as it takes place in Chicago which is sort of close to where I live.  Okay, it's actually a five hour drive to the Windy City, but I still consider that close.  I had no clue what my table mate was talking about.

Naturally, I raced back to my hotel room and grabbed my laptop.  A quick Google search took me straight to the Meow Meetup homepage.  The two day conference boasts presentations from industry experts, workshops, an adoption lounge, and meet and greets with some of the Internet's most famous cats.  I immediately purchased tickets.

My suitcase was packed a full week and a half before the conference.  Can you tell I was excited?  I made sure to pack all of my cat-themed shirts (including my Lil Bub tee), my cat BOBS by Skechers shoes, and every piece of cat jewelry I owned.  I wanted to be prepared.

Donning my cat ears, my husband and I started day one of the meetup.  It was amazing! We attended several presentations given by Dr. Melissa Bain.  I loved learning about simple and affordable ways to catify our house.  We also took in the exhibit hall that featured local rescue groups, vendors, and more. 



My cat ears are on and I'm ready to go!





Priscilla told us all about The Paw Project movement.




Look at this gorgeous Sphinx cat!  He was so soft! 



Did someone say shopping?  From cat toys and tees to exclusive Lil Bub merchandise, there was definitely something for every cat lover.  You can never have too much cat stuff, right?

My absolute favorite part of the conference was the meet and greets.  I got nervous and started fanning out before each session.  My husband laughed at me.  Clearly, he doesn't understand how awesome these cats are!  Being able to pet and pose with Internet royalty was such a thrill.




Chuck the Duck is too adorable...and sleepy!





Sinbad wasn't too sure if he should leave his carrier.




I couldn't believe that Eddie Meowster jumped onto my shoulders!





Selfie time with Mike and Lil Bub!



The adoption lounge was my weakness.  There were so many adorable adoptable cats and kittens!  If only I could have hidden a kitty in my purse.  I hope that they all found loving homes.




This adoptable kitty was fast asleep.




Loving this definition of what it means to adopt an animal.



Another highlight was the Cat Video Festival hosted by none other than Instagram stars Cole and Marmalade.  The collection of adorable and hilarious videos made me laugh and cry.  The ending featured the true adoption journey of one nearly-dead kitten.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room!

On day two, Matt and I decided to partake of the Pampurr Parlor.  We both got cat tats!  While I'm not brave enough to get a real tattoo, I was proud to show off my black cat cutie. 



Me and Matt rocking the cat tats!



We ended the conference by attending The Story of Lil Bub presented by Lil Bub and her Dude, Mike Bridavsky.  Matt and I are long-time fans of Lil Bub.  We first met her at the Yeti Art Gallery in Aurora, Illinois.  Then we met up with her again at Animal Planet's Woofstock.

I have to say, this was a very intimate event.  Mike was very open and honest about his life and what led him to adopt Lil Bub.  I feel like this is the most powerful Lil Bub event we have ever attended.  The accompanying slide show contained previously unreleased footage of Lil Bub doing adorable (and hilarious) things...like attacking a plush of herself!

Mike also hosted a question and answer session after the presentation.  Except, he didn't talk at all.  Questions were to be directed to Lil Bub as it was her show.  While Mike pretended to be on the phone, he would type the answers to the questions onto his laptop that not only appeared on the screen for everyone to read, but made real Lil Bub sounds with every tap of the keys!  Matt and I couldn't stop laughing!

As a special treat, Mike gave Lil Bub her favorite food:  yogurt.  Attendees were allowed to snap pics as Lil Bub happily snarfed up the delicious delicacy.  Could there be anything more precious than yogurt dripping off of Lil Bub's nose?




Lil Bub, you have something on your nose!





Lil Bub enjoys the yogurty goodness.




Matt and I enjoyed every moment of Meow Meetup.  We will definitely be back next year.  To learn more about the event, please visit their official website at:  https://www.thecatniptimes.com/meow-meetup-chicago-2018/



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Otis and the Puppy Book Review

Otis is back and better than ever in Otis and the Puppy by Loren Long.  The farm animals love playing with Otis after the work day is done.  Their favorite game?  Hide-and-seek of course!

One night, the farmer introduces the farm family to a new addition:  a puppy.  They eagerly soak up the sweet kisses that the pup is more than happy to provide.  Excited and exhausted, the team heads for the barn to call it a night.

Suddenly, Otis is awakened by a terrible sound.  It's the puppy!  He soon discovers that the cuddly canine is afraid of the dark and would much rather sleep inside the barn with him than in the wooden dog house.

The pair become fast friends.  Otis even teaches the pooch to play hide-and-seek.  During one such game, Otis has the honor of being "it."  He manages to find everyone...except the puppy.  Will Otis and the farm animals be able to track down the hound?

I absolutely love this book!  The story is full of heart.  Young and old alike will be able to relate to the theme of losing something that you love.  I was reminded about the time that my blind and deaf Dachshund escaped our fence and wandered across the street to the local daycare.  My world felt like it was crashing down around me in the brief five minutes that she was gone.

Long's illustrations are absolutely stunning.  Every page is truly a feast for the eyes.  From gorgeous rural pastures to nighttime scenes in the forest, I was captivated from start to finish.  He effortlessly brings the scenery and characters to life.

This is a wonderful story for readers ages 3-7 and for anyone who loves beautiful artwork.