I started to write this post in August, 2011 about a few losses we had had through the pet blogging community. I stopped writing it, because I felt like I couldn't adequately discuss a matter I hadn't experienced on the personal level that the blogger's who lost their pets had, and that it might be insulting for me to post about it. Now, unfortunately, I can finish this post. I need to finish it.
I usually try to keep things G-Rated on the blog, because honestly, what's more family friendly than a website full of animals? Today, however, is not that day. Course language ahead. You have been warned.
The rainbow bridge has been a selfish bitch.
If you're sitting there wondering "What in the hell is a rainbow bridge? What substances has Katherine been abusing?" I assure you that the only thing coursing through my veins is caffeine, and I can to expose to you the term. I didn't hear "rainbow bridge" until I started pet blogging. Each culture has their own way of discussing death and the mourning of a death; this includes the sub-culture of pet bloggers on the web. When a pet dies, they cross the rainbow bridge. It's supposed to be a comforting thought to pet parents in their time of grief.
Well, fuck the rainbow bridge. Fuck it.
I moved in with my fiancé, Zack, about two years ago. In addition to moving in together, we also brought out families together. Zack embraced my cats and Arie whole-heartedly, and I welcomed Gertrude, his elderly Basset Hound.
Gert lived a hard life before meeting Zack. She had been abused. She had been a mother (and HATED her puppy when they were fostered together). She had a back leg that wouldn't bend, a sweet but also grouchy disposition and she smelled like a three day old corpse (NOT an exaggeration).
When Zack inquired about adopting her from the Basset Hound rescue, the foster family said that they had bonded with her and couldn't give her up. Two days later, foster dad called and asked Z to come get her. He gratefully obliged. They have been nearly inseparable since, going on now for a decade.
Gertrude was a hilarious dog. Refusing to learn most of the most basic commands (but somewhat mastering 'sit' for noms), Gertrude was her own lady, and the boss of herself. Her biggest desires in life were a warm, soft cushy bed, love from her human, a yard to bury things in, and pizza crust. There are so many good stories from this dog, from expensive Italian sausages disappearing only to be rediscovered months later when she dug them up to stollen challah bread hanging out of an unapologetic Basset face as she stared our the porch window looking at her dad.
Moving in together was tough. Gertrude would be jealous of Zack a bit, and there were plenty of squabbles between her and Arie. She would chase the cats. We spent a lot of time cleaning up after both dogs, as Gertrude would have accidents from age, and Arie from her spay incontinence. It was sometimes stressful, often gross, and a consistently busy life with our family of six. It was also amazing. We slowly got to know each other better, and the family became more and more of a family. With the good and the bad, we balanced things, and Gertrude became a huge part of my heart while she learned to tolerate my presence.
On Tuesday of this past week, Gertrude started having issues using her hind legs. We were extremely worried, but started to think it was just arthritis, as she perked up when given her pain medication. Over the next few days, she seemed to be doing better, which gave us hope that it had just been a bad day from the weather or just a random pang of worse arthritis than usual. On Saturday, however, Gertrude refused to take her pill in the morning, though wrapped in a tantalizing piece of chicken. She wouldn't move. She seemed despondent. We knew something was really, really wrong, so we scooped her up and headed to the vet.
Within around 20 minutes, they noticed something was off in her vitals. Within another 20, they found that she was anemic. Within another 30, x-rays confirmed she had a tumor in her abdomen. We knew what choice we had to make. Within another 30 minutes, we were saying goodbye.
What we thought was a visit to treat bad hips turned out to be the visit where we had to say goodbye. This is the first time I've been in a room while a pet was euthanized, and let me tell you: Fuck. That. Rainbow. Bridge. It's not shiny. It's not sparkly. It's shitty. I had to watch my dog take her last labored breaths when she couldn't even recognize me or Zack, the man that had loved her for over a decade, because she was so weak from disease. Since then, we've had to handle calls about what to do with her remains, what we wanted from the cremation, and what memorial items we wanted to choose, along with letting work know why I won't be coming in (because I just look like I went 3 rounds with Tyson with the swelling from crying so much, and we still are crying) and all the other arrangements. There's so much to take in emotionally, monetarily, physically, mentally. It's exhausting and emotional and overwhelming. They don't warn you about this part of losing a pet. The business part. No one does.
Being back home is both comforting and eerie. Arie knows something is different, but doesn't seem to realize what it is yet. She and the cats to do realize that mom and dad are hurting like crazy now, though, and are all about the comfort cuddles and checking on us, which helps. Still, it's shocking to not hear little basset claws on the hardwoods. To not smell that death stench right around the corner of the sofa. To not hear a scratch at the door, asking to go in and come out five hundred times in a row without peeing once. We will heal, but healing takes time, and patience, and love.
Gertrude, I don't ever think you'll know how much you meant to me, and I don't think I knew until you weren't here anymore. Thank you, for being such a huge part of Zack's life. You saved him, probably more than he saved you, and I am forever in your debt. I am so glad you are not in pain anymore, though I really wish you could still be here. Run fast, sweet girl. Eat all the things. Bury all the things. We love you.
Rainbow Bridge image via Wiki commons, Maris Stella.
If you're one of my human friends, chances are you know that I've recently taken up running. This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, but needed a few pushes in the right direction to get started. Luckily for me, those little nudges have already happened, and, from my new running adventures, I've been lucky enough to meet Piper, the Atlanta Beltline cat.
Single Volunteers Atlanta is gearing up for two 5K's, the Hunger Walk/Run on March 10 and the Color Run on April 6 (join us!). I need to train up for such events, so I finally decided to check out the Atlanta Beltline. The Beltline is a new trail around the city of Atlanta that follows the railroad tracks. It's a gorgeous trail, a brand new initiative, and an amazing place for cyclists, walkers, runners, families, skaters (there's a small skate park there), and more. Every time I've gone, I've seen at least 10 dogs while on my 3.1 mile runs (5K training!) with friends.
One day, upon entering at the 10th and Monroe entrance and about halfway through my course, I found Piper, the Atlanta Beltline kitty. At first, I thought she was just a stray, and was going to take her with me. I also thought she had been fighting, as one ear appeared to be injured. Upon closer inspection, I found that the nick in her ear was a spay and release marker, and that she was actually well cared for, complete with provided food and even a mailbox:
Piper has warm blankets in the two large pipes that she uses as beds, plenty of food and water, and many adoring fans that stop by to say hello. While she doesn't enjoy being picked up, she does enjoy when a calm, patient person hangs out long enough for her to let them pet her.
I would love to give Piper a forever home, but as we already have quite a busy house, and she isn't a fan of being picked up, I doubt I could bring her to casa de Arie. However, as the general life of stray cats isn't usually that great, Piper seems to be doing fairly well for herself and has become a Beltline staple. Many people take notice of this darling black cat (so much like the cats from Life with Arie!), so much so that she's appeared on Tumblr, Incurably Stir Crazy, and even CNN.
Want to learn more about Piper? I'll be sure to mention her in future posts. You can also check her out on Twitter!
Are there any neighborhood-adopted strays in your area?
Our February Guest Post comes from Maggie Bailey, a former colleague and forever friend of mine. I hope you enjoy her guest post, "The Dangers of Owning a Pit Bull," which details the risks and problems with having a bully breed in the family.
We have all heard what the media has to say about Pit Bulls and all Bully dog breeds. As the owner of a seven-year-old, 95-pound Pit Bull/Bulldog mix named Cody, I would love nothing more than to go to cities like Denver and Miami to argue with their governments and tell them why their discrimination is ridiculous and explain to them just how misinformed they are. Since that course of action has some logistical flaws in its execution, I thought I would share with you some of the lesser known dangers that I have encountered in my one-and-a-half years of owning a Pit Bull mix.
Sounds like a crazed monster, right? I know, it's terrifying. I just can't take it sometimes. When that big ole slobbery beast sees me come in the door and tromps down the stairs like the big red elephant he is, I can't help but laugh and wonder how people could possibly think this guy is evil.
While owning a pit bull has been an amazing experience, there are precautions you should take:
In short, be a responsible pet owner and take care of a pit bull just as you would any other breed of dog, or any other animal for that matter. It's that simple! Just beware of the slobber and the hugs.
Katie here: Of course We wouldn't tell you about Cody's adorable-ness without sharing a few photos. You know me better than that. Feast your eyes on this adorable mug:
Now that I'm getting back to the blogosphere, I'm enjoying catching up on friend's posts and enjoying all of their interesting thoughts, finds, and tips. Jodi Stone's blog about her dogs, Sampson and Delilah, has always been a favorite of mine. In her most recent post, Jodi blogged about an ideal dog park, and asked what value readers would put on such a haven.
Dog parks are a big point of desire for me and for Arie. So far, we still haven't conquered our dog and leash aggression issues, so dog parks are off limits until Arie can learn to play nicely with others. I still love reading about parks and about their features, as when the day comes that her training has progressed far enough for Arie to go off-leash with playmates, I want to take her to the best parks in the city to let her get her run on.
This thought trail, along with Jodi's post, reminded me of a recent topic in the Nutro Knowledge Network, a community project by Nutro to help local dog parks called "Room to Run". (As a reminder for all of my posts regarding the Knowledge Network, this post was written by a Nutro Knowledge Network Member and sponsored by the Nutro Company.)
The Room to Run Dog Park Appreciation Project works to support local community dog parks and off-leash areas so that pet parents and pooches everywhere can enjoy exercise and socialization with their peers. In the past two years, Nutro was able to work with 60 dog parks in the US and Canada to better their facilities for those using them. In 2012, the program is enjoying a change of pace and is now a grant application program, with a focus on working closely with park departments. Here are just a few people speaking out about last year's program to give you an idea of its impact:
Do you know of a park that could use the help from Room to Run? Submit a Grant Application by August 31 to the program for a chance to help improve your park! For more information, check out the Room to Run Facebook page.
What changes would you make to your local dog park?
If you're a regular reader of Life with Arie, then you know there are a few things I blog about fairly often: Arie, my White German Shepherd; my cats and new fish; rescue dogs, because they have a special place in my heart; and of course, Nutro. Nutro is the company behind Arie's food, and I blog about their products a great deal. I've had the opportunity to join a new initiative with them, the Nutro Knowledge Network, and I'm ecstatic about it--In the future, at the end of some of my posts you'll find "This post was written by a Nutro Knowledge Network Member and sponsored by the Nutro Company" to signify which posts are created from me being a part of this wonderful network, as this one is.
I work in online content. All day every day I over see a team of writers typing away to create engaging content on the web for various clients, most of which are spread all throughout the United States. A few of these clients are in the Denver and Colorado Springs area, and are close to my heart right now as they deal with wildfires. It was perfect timing of course, that this week I also found out about Nutro sponsoring the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation.
The National Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is there wherever and whenever disasters strike with a team of professionally trained dogs to help other rescue responders find survivors of such tragedies. One of the most appealing aspects of this foundation is that not only are they using rescue dogs, but they are also giving dogs a home in the process. The team, in order to keep their numbers high and enough dogs for the job, rescues unwanted dogs from shelters around the country. These rescued dogs then become rescuers themselves after six months of training in obedience, disaster search skills, and more.
Nutro is working to show their appreciation for the National Search Dog Foundation in various ways. Since 1998, they've supported the SDF with Nutro Natural Choice dog food (I knew my dog was a hero...probably why I unconsciously fed her the same food they get!) for all FEMA certified canine disaster search teams. Nutro has also pledged the sponsor the SDF with one million dollars through 2016.
This amazing foundation brings our love of rescue dogs and of the dog food that saved Arie from allergy woes together and is now a new favorite of mine. You can find out more about them on the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation Website or visit them on Facebook and Twitter. The SDF also has a donation page if you want to contribute.
Have you heard of SDF before? Do you know any dogs who are a part of it, or have you ever seen them in action? Share your rescue dog stories with us in a comment!
Ladies, gentlemen, furry/scaly/feathery creatures, it shames me to say this, but today's post is about the Carolina Gamecocks. I grew up in a family of Clemson fans, and, in the true tradition of one of the bitterest rivalries in college ball, have never said anything pro-Gamecocks. Now I'm going to have to change that for Life with Arie's Fish Week, as this college football team is doing something both hilarious and awesome--They're making a betta fish a mascot of their usually chicken-led team.
You may have heard or read the phrase "Fear the Fish" floating around on Twitter, Facebook and beyond when the Gamecocks came up in conversation, but do you know the phrase's origin? Some people do, some people don't. It was new to me this week when I read it:
Gamecock third baseman LB Dantzler could not leave his beloved betta fish, Reptar, with the neighbor who usually looked after him while Dantzler was out-of-town. With the team leaving for a road trip to Auburn, Dantzler had to make a decision on how to best care for his fish--He decided that watching after him himself was the best idea. Reptar was transported in a Tupperware container on the bus, kept in a hotel room, and then into the bullpen on the field where the guys manning the area could care the fish. Dantzler told the Spurs Up Blog how he came to make the decision:
"I figured I'd leave him with the bullpen guys and let them take care of him, and they did a good job," said Dantzler. "It was safer with them [in the bullpen] messing around than in the heat of the game [in the dugout.]"
Reptar proved to be an amazing lucky charm, as the team went on to deliver a series sweep. Throughout the game the Siamese fighting fish kept spirits high, even in the face of danger.
"Adam Westmoreland set him down [during batting practice] and about 30 seconds later, a home run ball landed less than a foot from him," Dantzler shared. "That was a little scary."
After the inspired luck of the game, Reptar continued to travel with the team, even flying to Arkansas with the players. For more information on Reptar and his luck-inspiring presence, including how he got his name, you can read the full story on the Spurs Up Blog.
While I'm sure Reptar is pretty stunning, I think Stanley could lead a team onto victory...maybe even an army. Or, maybe just a mafia crew? For now I think he's content just to swim in circles around his plants.
Photo via Google Images.
No offense to Wanda, but we've got the betta fish naming down to a science. Stan-the-Man (he's had a name for .025 seconds and he already has a nickname) is enjoying life so far in the Life with Arie household, and we couldn't be happier to have him. After 15 Facebook votes for the various options, numerous in-person votes from friends, family, and co-workers, and a handful of wonderful ideas from others, Stanley was the winning name for the betta, garnering more votes than the others. Stanley seems to fit the little guy, or big betta fish, I should say, and I couldn't be happier with the choice.
Now that Stanley has his new name, we can officially kick off FISH WEEK! This week our posts will be all about the fishies, especially bettas to celebrate Stan. I can't wait to share all that I've found while researching this week!
So often we blog about our cats, dogs, ferrets, etc, but how often do we talk about our fish? If you have a fish, comment or tweet with us @masdemoore with a little bit about them or even a photo!
Today is the last day of the A to Z Challenge! I'm cutting it very close. I need to publish this post, and one more to achieve the Ultimate Blog Challenge as well, with 30 posts for the month of April. I think I can!
Like the Aquarium, I love to visit the zoo in Atlanta. It may not be the largest zoo in the country, but it is still a nice zoo, and I enjoy my time there. Here are just a few of the photos I've snapped while visiting. For more details on the photos, or to see more, check them out in my Flickr gallery. Click each photo to see a larger version.
S brings us to Single Volunteers Atlanta, and the reason why R was delayed.
I have just recently joined the newly founded group, Single Volunteers Atlanta. This is the Atlanta chapter of the nation-wide organization, Single Volunteers, which brings singles that want to help their community together to meet other people who also want to make a difference. It's a way to make friends and meet people from all backgrounds that share your passion for making a difference. So far, the Atlanta Chapter is off to a good start, already participating in two events, the second of which is one after my own heart: The Atlanta Pet Parade.
SVA has many animals lovers as members. Though the club will help in many ways with all interests, whether it's helping the elderly, children, to build new homes, etc, we also will do several animal-oriented events throughout this year. Our first animal-centered event was today--The Atlanta Pet Parade. We had to sign up a little late to help, and were left with the 5:45 AM spot. ...that's right. 5:45 AM. With determination in our hearts, we stood up to the challenge and accepted (coffee in hand of course).
Yesterday's post was delayed as I went straight from work to a fellow volunteer's home, as she happens to live much closer to Atlantic Station, the site of the event. I didn't want to be a rude house guest and blog while at someone else's home, hence the delay for the lovely letter R. :) To make up for my faltering in my challenges, I hope you will enjoy a few of the photos I was able to grab while setting up for the Pet Parade...and the sweet depictions of Bear, the Parade's Grand Marshall.
With the early morning time slot, SVA was responsible for helping to unload tables, tents, chairs, and more from various trucks to help the Atlanta Human Society set up for the Pet Parade. Afterwards, various rescue groups and pet businesses shuffled in to set up their things, including the German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Georgia. You can see the two beautiful GSD's they brought with them in our Facebook album.
Now it's time to learn about Bear. Bear stole my heart the second he got out of a truck. Bear does not have use of his back legs--I didn't get the story on how this happened, but did get to meet his pet parents, who help with the Atlanta Humane Society. Bear can scoot around on grass, and lounge on his pillow on his own.
When Bear needs to get on the move, he has a special cart/chair/appliance that helps him get around, wheelchair style.
Though he moves in a way that differs from other dogs, don't underestimate this little guy. Bear can book it when he needs to, and really knows how to blaze a trail--He also gets to show off his skills as the Grand Marshall of the pet parade, leading the way.
The Pet Parade was a blast, and after setting up the SVA team was able to grab some brunch and head for our beds. With caffeine still in hand to keep me going, I'm able to be functional enough to write this for you all before crashing again for a good night's rest. If you're in the Atlanta area, love pets, are single, and want to make a difference, shoot me an email about Single Volunteer's Atlanta, or drop a comment on our Facebook page. I'd love to hear from you!
The letter P brings us several amazingly fun topics...and it makes me happy.
Let's kick things off with......Pinterest, the web obsession. I will not only eventually have to go to rehab for caffeine, but probably Pinterest as well. I know most of you are probably already pinning wonders, but trust me--Pinterest isn't for everyone, so I totally get it if you're not. Pin obsessed or pin resistant, I think you'll still like my two pet-centric boards. I have one for Life with Arie and one I started with Examiner, about heroic dogs! The first one should make you smile, the second should make you tear up with happiness. I hope you enjoy both--feel free to repin and comment like a madwoman, dog, or man. :) If you're on Pinterest and care to share, put a link to yourself in the comments!
Now onto Pet First Aid Awareness Month.
Have you noticed a few trends with pet safety in my posts lately? I've talked about icy concerns, what household items could be poisonous for your pets, and in my last post about medications and pets. From ears and nails to car harnesses and beyond, many of my April posts have tried to focus on health and medical care for your pets to Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Pet first aid is so important, because you never really know when you're going to need it. When Arie was a pup she burned her paws on hot pavement (BAD mom for walking her in the late afternoon during a hot Georgia Summer) and we had to clean her paws with iodine, then coat them in Neosporin, then wrap them loosely with gauze, and put baby socks on them....oh yes. I bought baby socks to keep my dog from pulling on the gauze.
Socks and all, the knowledge was good to know in case I ever need to pass it on to someone who had a similar situation. I want to continue to learn more about Pet First Aid, and I especially want to take a Pet CPR class. What kind of first aid advice do you have to offer? Have you taken a CPR class? Let's pool our knowledge, pet fans!
Next on our P list is the Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month. This topic breaks my heart. I've seen so many stories lately about horrible things done to animals...there was even a puppy in my hometown that someone poured acid on...on purpose. Freddy, as he has been called, survived the incident and has been described as your typical loving puppy, though he has and still is living through some terrible pain. He was only six weeks old and three and half lbs when a good Samaritan found him with his burns and rushed him to a friend at Animal Control to see if someone could save him. He is expected, however, to make a full recovery. I found a link to the story with very tiny images for those of you, who, like me, can't stand to look at such pain. If you want to help the rescue that is helping Freddy, and other severely abused animals in South Carolina, you can find them here. One thing we can do to help stop the abuse of animals is to ensure that people who abuse animals, like sex offenders, are registered for their crimes and prevented from adopting animals in the future just to cause them harm. You can learn more about that from Pet-Abuse.com.
Now, I don't want to leave anyone in the dumps after such a serious moment...so instead we're going to talk about other dumps. (you chuckled...you know you did.) That's right. Poop. And prizes.
...I hinted that I would reveal one of the prizes for the giveaway basket in May on one of my social channels in my post yesterday or the day before. I failed. Instead, I'm revealing one today, and it's just the tip of the iceberg for the basket of awesomeness that awaits one lucky winner. It's...
Poopie bags!!! While not the most exciting or most enticing element of the epic giveaway basket, these little items are amazingly handy when you need them. The bone shaped holder can latch onto your leash, keys, purse, book bag, belt loop, etc. making baggies super convenient, and the rainbow of bags offers up 48 plastic baggies for you. Besides, let's face it--If you're going to be picking up poop, using a blue/yellow/green/or pink bag just makes it a little less nasty. Keep your eyes peeled for more giveaway surprises, and don't forget to share your first aid tips!