Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

Dog Days of Summer…

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Why do they call it the “dog days of summer,” anyway?

I mean, not everyone has dogs. And those who do mostly worry about how well their dogs will do in the heat.

But perhaps that’s why…the heat is notoriously bad for most dogs, and it’s also notoriously bad for humans with asthma (raise your hands in solidarity, people), or heart issues, or those with any long-term illnesses whatsoever.

Dogs, mind you, are very cute, heat or no heat. They always let you know they love you. They want to be petted and coddled. And they certainly love their food, as unlike most humans in the heat, dogs do not care when it comes to their dinner. (Wink.)

Anyway, if you live in much of the United States this week, you know the heat is dreadful, and the humidity is worse. But if you live in Southeastern Wisconsin, you may be pardoned if you think this weather is closer to the tropical rain forests of Brazil, or maybe Malaysia, than Wisconsin.

Why? Well, our heat index is very high at the moment. That’s because the humidity is exceptionally high for this area, and it adds to the misery of high temperatures something fierce. (They may as well call it “heat misery index,” as that would be truth in advertising. But I digress.)

All we can do is wait this bad weather out. Pay attention to it, of course. Pay attention to your animals, too, and make sure they always have cool water.

And if you’re asthmatic, make sure you know where your rescue inhaler is at all times.

But for all of you dealing with the high heat/humidity mix right now, just remember this: be good to yourselves. Don’t expect miracles, as the heat scatters thought and makes it harder to follow through, physically, on any number of things.

That said, you can still do things, even in this horrible heat, if you are careful and plan well and take breaks. So do be careful, do plan well, and do take many breaks…and stay as cool as possible, OK?

How do you stay cool in the high heat? Tell me about it in the comments!


Written by Barb Caffrey

July 19, 2019 at 3:41 am

Of Shouts into the Void…and Cats

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Earlier tonight, when I was about to go to sleep (as it was very late night, or very early morning, depending on your point of view), I got a call from a distraught friend.

You see, he’s a cat lover. He has a cat — a rather feisty, elderly cat that doesn’t like other cats, or too many people, either. He treats this feisty, elderly, cantankerous cat like royalty (my other cat fancier friends are no doubt adding, “As the cat deserves”).

But the reason he was distraught was also because of a cat. A stray, that had once been a well-kept house pet — my friend said he could tell — and was still willing to believe a human being would help rather than hurt.

My friend couldn’t bring this stray cat into his home, even though he desperately wanted to. (I know this because he called me, and we discussed it at great length.) His own cat would’ve hurt this littler, younger, gentler one, he thought. And he, himself, is disabled, and has recently come off some medical treatment that made him a bit weaker than usual. (And usual isn’t exactly strong anymore, though I hate to point that out for the sake of my friend’s machismo.)

What he did do, though, was take some cat food out, some water out, and went and held the cat for an hour while it ate and drank. He petted the cat. He tried wracking his brains to see if he could find anyone in the Tampa, Florida, area who might be able to foster a cat, as this one needs some medical attention as it recently looks to have gotten into a fight. (Perhaps with a raccoon, perhaps with another cat.) Its eyes were affected, and my friend was very upset at leaving a half-blind cat outside, at the mercy of the elements (as it’s chilly tonight in Tampa — perhaps more temperate than my own Wisconsin, but cold by their standards, and not good for a cat that really shouldn’t be out in the darkness, alone, when it doesn’t seem to be seeing very well).

I told my friend he did all he could. He did more than some would do, considering his levels of physical limitations, and considering his own very ornery and unruly cat. (I know he’s not going to like me calling her that, but his cat definitely is.)

But that doesn’t help this particular stray cat. Not enough, anyway…though the food and water my friend gave the cat may help the poor little guy survive another night alone, outside. (And I devoutly hope it does.)

My friend was also livid that a pampered house cat — which this must’ve been at one time — had been tossed to the curb like so much garbage. He said that in his area, there aren’t many shelters that will take animals for very long without euthanizing them (though there are a few shelters that are no-kill, or at least want to be, he said they are overcrowded, overloaded, and underfunded). And he’s worried that a cat like this one — providing it sticks around (and he checked on it four or five times in the next several hours, and the cat had stayed right there, waiting for him, which broke his heart, and mine, all over again) would be euthanized immediately due to the recent fight and the damage to at least one eye.

This is where the “shout into the void” comes in, folks. Because I’m with my friend on this one. I do not understand, at all, why anyone would treat a pet like that. And thinking about anyone treating a beloved family pet that way just makes me want to scream.

Maybe it won’t be heard, thus the “shout into the void” concept. But it makes me so angry, to think about this poor little guy out on the streets, way too far away for me to drive to, to rescue the poor dear, and no way to know if the cat will survive this night — or not.

Rather than kicking a beloved pet out, do the responsible thing if you can no longer take care of your animals: Give that pet a good, loving home somewhere else.

I know that years ago, my mother and I adopted a very elderly dog that, like this cat, had been abandoned in the middle of winter. This dog had cataracts in both eyes, couldn’t hear, and was so matted when it was brought in that the shelter people had no idea whatsoever what type of dog it was. (It was a Lhasa Apso.) We were horrified that a dog like that had been abandoned at such an old age, left to fend for itself in the middle of a Wisconsin winter…that the dog had survived its ordeal was wonderful, but why did it have to go through it at all?

(Needless to say, that little dog was better off with us, and had a couple of good years where he was pampered, well-fed, well-treated, and basically lived the life of Reilly.)

I know that there are many stray animals out there in need of loving homes. There are more cats, dogs, and other assorted pets that have been left on the sides of roads or maybe ran away and couldn’t find their way back home.

My hope is, that by writing this blog, you will think about how you can help the neglected animals in your area. Many are loving, affectionate, and really want a “forever home.” But for whatever reason, they are out there, alone, in the dark, without food, without water, without shelter…and I find that so unconscionable, I just have no words for it.

So please. Do whatever you can to help the less fortunate among us, including the animals. Because they often get forgotten, and they can’t speak for themselves.

We must do it instead.

Milwaukee Brewers Find Stray Dog, Incorporate Him Into Team Workouts

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Folks, after the sturm und drang of the last week’s figure skating results, I needed some lighter fare.

So what could be better than this blog post from USA Today’s “For the Win,” which has a bunch of pictures of the adorable dog Hank that’s been unofficially adopted by the Milwaukee Brewers?

As FTW says:

The Milwaukee Brewers are down in Arizona right now for spring training, and at one of the first days of their new season they happened upon a stray dog roaming around their practice field. After failing to locate an owner, the team has been taking care of the little guy. They named him Hank after Hank Aaron, and he’s become the unofficial mascot of the team.

Click through to see the pictures, and pay special attention to the one where Yovani Gallardo is walking Hank on a leash. Gallardo looks as relaxed as I’ve ever seen him . . . who knew having a cute little dog around would bolster everyone’s spirits? (Well, besides us dog lovers.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm

In Praise of Dogs and Cats (Friends, all)

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As we’re in the winter doldrums now — caught between two holidays, where everything seems both surreal and pointless — it’s grown harder for me to come up with blog subjects that have some meaning.  And thus, might strike a chord with someone else.

But there’s one thing I am always grateful for, and that’s the companionship of my Mom’s three dogs.  They’re my friends; they have personalities all their own.  Even though they have the typical dog faults — they love food to distraction and will gladly eat themselves sick over and over again, for just one — and they’re not “shining beacons of light,” it’s still a joy to be around them.  They enjoy life for what it is: they get fed, they’re warm and out of the cold, they get affection and told they’re loved quite frequently.  And they are content.

Lest you think I only feel like this about dogs, think again.  Cats, too, are very special creatures.  They definitely have personalities, in some ways stronger ones than many dogs.  Their reasoning can be easier to follow by human beings — or at least, by me — and while cats can be aloof, if they like you, they let you know it.  And they, too, are a joy to be around because they know what’s important: companionship and caring.  Anything else just doesn’t register for cats, being profoundly irrelevant to their lives.

I keep thinking what are the most important qualities in a friend, and I think “companionship and caring” about sums it up.  This is why pets are so important to many human beings, because it gets harder every day to reach out and keep trying to make a connection with another living soul.

I know that in the strongest human friendships, these same two things — companionship, and caring — are what count the most.  Then comes communication — something you don’t need to worry about as much with a cat or dog, as they read nonverbal clues far better than most humans — and shared experiences, among many other things that go into making up a strong friendship with a human being.

Friends are vitally important.  In the end, it doesn’t matter so much what kind of friends we have, though it’s much easier for human beings to have a human friend or two as that’s really the best way we have to be fully understood, as a companion animal, no matter how wonderful it might be, cannot reason on a human level.  (Nor should it be asked to do so.)

So at this time of year, where it’s cold and dark and dreary over the Northern Hemisphere, do your best to celebrate your friends, near and far.  If they’re still alive, tell ’em you appreciate them; if they’re dead, celebrate their lives as best you’re able.  And please do remember to pet your cat or dog a few extra times, too.  They’ll appreciate it, and it might actually help you out, too.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 28, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Posted in friendship, Writing

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