Introducing Jolene

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Jude, Simon and I are happy to announce the arrival of Jolene! In over 20 years of being a cat mom, Jolene is my first girl, so she got my baby name. Jude has my boy name.

I have been wanting a dog for the past 3-4 years, but was not able to have a dog in my apartment. Since moving into the house, I started visiting the shelter about once a month to try to connect with a dog to adopt. I have been on the approved adopter list for about 6 months. As we know by my experience last spring in Dog Gone Down, I definitely can not handle a larger dog. Yet I was still visiting the shelter hoping to find either a smaller dog, or an older, more calm one. 

Each time I visit the shelter, I spend a few hours visiting all of the animals. I have been reading to and playing with cats to help socialize them. If they are more friendly, they are more likely to be adopted. In over 20 years as a cat mom, I have never wanted a third cat. I have been fine with two.

This month, I went to the shelter specifically to visit a 15 pound dog that I thought I could handle. I really liked him. He was hesitant about me, which is completely understandable in a shelter situation. There was another person there to visit the same dog. As soon as the other person came into the room, the dog got all excited and jumped into the person’s lap. That dog chose his family. It was not me, and that was okay. I was just glad to see that he would be adopted and have a happy ending.

I then proceeded to visit with the cats, as I usually do. There are three rooms of cats. After the first room, I went into the second room. Way in the corner was this little orange cat begging for attention. I typically avoid orange cats. Kip was orange, and I was so upset after he died, that I have difficulty sometimes interacting with other orange cats without getting upset. They just remind me of Kip.

Well, this little 6 pound wonder was a girl, which in some ways made it different. I am able to mentally separate her from Kip because even though she is orange, she is a girl. It is extremely rare for an orange cat to be female. Over 80% of orange cats are male, which has something to do with the genetics for orange fur.

As soon as I took this little girl out of the cage for some attention, she immediately crawled up my shoulder, hugged me, and would not let go. She chose me.

This 5 year old wonder had been dumped last summer with a box full of kittens. She was a wonderful mother. Of course, kittens get adopted because they are cute and fluffy. The moms are often left in the shelters un-adopted, as they are typically older. 

This girl loved me and reacted to me in a way that cats rarely do. Keep in mind, I have made numerous visits to the shelter to socialize cats. None of them reacted to me the way she did.

I never wanted a third cat, but you know, I was looking at getting a dog, which would have been a third pet. Did it matter if it was a dog or a cat? She had chosen me.

Jolene came home a few weeks ago and has been fitting right in. She is the Queen of the castle, Jude is the man of the house, and Simon will always be my baby. Jolene is so tiny – she is 6 pounds, whereas the boys are 10 pounds each.

Jolene has of course been spayed and also had dental work done. I found out that she has some genetic disorder that causes all of her teeth to rot from the inside out. Apparently, when she was dumped with her kittens last summer, she was already missing half of her teeth. She had to have 8 infected teeth extracted right before adoption. She currently has 5 teeth left. She will probably be a toothless cat and is special needs in that she needs to be soft food only. But, hey, that’s genetics. She is the most loving and precious cat ever.

She gets along well with the boys and is so smart. She is constantly learning from them and is already getting used to our home routine. I still have to keep her separate when I am not home for her own safety. She is still healing from her surgeries and needs time to heal. 

I am definitely not getting a dog now. There is no way I can handle a fourth pet. Having three right now, is a little juggling act, but definitely do-able. Jolene is the perfect addition to our little family. I just could not say no when she chose me.

Sometimes love just finds you – and it is wonderful.

Dog Gone Down

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April is turning out to be an eventful month. Did you know that when people turn 40, that automatically means you are depressed? According to my primary physician it does.

There was an article out of the UK recently that concludes the age at which people are the most unhappy in life is 44. Must be that mid-life crisis setting in. This is a follow-up to the study that was done a few years ago about the happiest age. I’ve written about it before somewhere on this blog… The happiness study concludes that the happiest age is 33. I definitely agree with that. Some pretty awesome things happened in my life when I was 33.

I do not think that just because a person turns 40 automatically means you are depressed. I was so ecstatic (honestly) to turn 40 last month. I have now officially outlived over half of the females in my family. Each decade I keep getting better. Plus, I am able to change age group for running.

My primary physician spent the bulk of my appointment a few weeks ago talking to me about mood disorders, specifically depression. They gave me the depression screening twice – once at the beginning of my appointment and once at the end. I was negative both times. I am not depressed.

This is a great time in my life. Life is not perfect. I’m lacking my dream job. But I’ve already ridden that unicorn, so things right now are pretty awesome. What do I have to be depressed about? I gave it some serious thought. I could not come up with anything.

I figured if my doctor is lecturing me about depression and I don’t feel depressed, that there must be something wrong with me. I’m 40 now, apparently I’m supposed to be depressed. What is up with all the happiness? I should be feeling down.

That lead me to create me own crisis. I’m 40 now, so, according to my doctor, it’s not normal for everything to be good.

Is it just me, or does this entire situation sound messed up?

This leads to Dog Gone Down.

I called one of my therapist friends from when I was in social work and explained the entire situation to her. I said, well, my doctor seems to think I have a mood disorder all of a sudden since I turned 40, so maybe I need therapy. She laughed. Once the laughter subsided, she screened me for depression again. Again, I scored completely negative with no symptoms. Then she asked me what I would talk about in therapy.

Well, Simon’s new trick is knocking the phone off the hook so that it rings busy. I’m trying to get money back in my savings account for house maintenance. I’m planning a half marathon for the fall. Nothing deep. My friend kept giggling and suggested maybe I need a new primary care physician, not a therapist. But to be honest, I’m pretty sure this 40 equals depression thing is pretty pervasive in the medical community here.

This weekend I took a box of towels and blankets to the animal shelter to donate. There are about three animal shelters in a 30 mile radius of me, so I try to rotate which shelter I am donating to so that I am not showing love to just one of the area animal shelters.

I dropped off the box, and, as usual when I make a donation, I walked around the shelter visiting with the animals. I have absolutely no desire to adopt another cat. I already live with two. Jude and Simon run this household, and there is no way I can handle a third boss in charge of my life. But, I enjoy showing the shelter cats some love for an hour or so when I drop something off.

Then, I walked into the dog room. I immediately turned around to walk out because it was just too LOUD. When six or seven dogs are barking at once, it is loud. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move up high. There was a dog on the end who was jumping to see who was there. It was the only dog not barking.

So, I went down to visit him. He looked really lonely. He is one of the longest dogs there. People don’t visit with him because he is so shy. He lays in the cage and just looks at people. I have spent close to 3 hours with this dog and never heard him bark once. When people visit animal shelters to adopt, it is quite common that shy or elderly animals get overlooked. This one is very shy.

And then I thought. This is it! Maybe the doctor was right. Maybe I’m depressed and I NEED A DOG!

Or, rather, a dog would be the perfect crisis to inject into my life right now to totally screw up the little utopia I have going on with my family life at home. Totally acceptable. I can tell the doctor I’m stressed because I have a dog, it will confirm her idea of mood disorder and I’ll be good to go.

This dog really did tug at my heart strings. I have been wanting a dog. If I had the house a year earlier, Simon would have been a dog and not a cat. However, since buying the house, I just figured I would wait until both Jude & Simon pass away and then get a dog. I was not thinking of getting a dog right now. But this dog was so polite. He is trained and has manners. I just fell in love.

The shelter rule is that you have to fill out an adoption application to visit with a dog. I filled one out so I could visit with him and pet him. He was so well behaved and trained that I was seriously considering adoption, but needed more time and visits. I let the shelter know I was interested.

This morning they called and said my adoption application had been approved and wanted to know when I was picking him up?

What?

I am not sure if I am ready for a dog. I need more visits and to see what he is like outside and on a leash. I have never even walked a dog on a leash before. I have walked cats on a leash plenty of times, but never a dog.

The dog is scheduled to be neutered tomorrow and will need time to recover from surgery, so I took the afternoon off to visit him again so I could see him outside and try him on the leash.

That was the worst experience of my life. I am never getting a dog. I grew up with dogs, but I have been living with cats for the past 20 years. Apparently, with a dog, the human has to be in charge. I don’t have the personality for it. In my house, my cat is in charge.

Walking a dog on a leash was the worst experience of my life. I may possibly be injured.

The shelter does not allow people to walk dogs on their own, so he was doubled leashed. I am so thankful for this rule.

I was dragged.

I think I blew out my knee again. No exaggeration. My leg from my ankle up through my hip and back hurt. My arm hurts from my wrist to my shoulder. I am really worried about my knee. It’s also the knee that had a serious injury a few years ago.

The shelter told me that this dog is the easiest one to walk in the kennel. They have an 80 year old volunteer who loves walking this dog because he is so easy to walk. Well, that’s great, but I was still dragged. If I cannot handle this dog with a shelter staff helping me, there is no way I will be able to handle him on my own.

The shelter staff tried explaining “well, he can be trained …” I get that, but at the same time, I will not be able to train him. I will be injured and none of us will be going anywhere. Plus, I was really worried about how Jude and Simon would take the sudden appearance of a dog in our lives.

So, lesson learned. The dog is gone. Well, not really. I never had the dog to begin with. He is still in the shelter. My heart still breaks for him because he is the sweetest dog. No one looks at him because he is so shy. I’m sure if an experienced dog owner could overlook the shyness, they would be able to handle him on a leash and he would be an amazing companion. For EXPERIENCED dog walkers, he is great on a leash. As a 100-pound person who has never walked a dog before, I cannot handle being dragged by a 50 pound dog.

When Kip was alive, he walked on a leash quite frequently. He loved it. Sometimes, he would take off and chase a leaf or something. Being dragged by a 14 pound cat is way different. I can handle that. I would like to leash train Jude and Simon, but they want nothing to do with it.

Don’t tell me to try for a smaller dog. I don’t want a smaller dog. I would just have a cat. I don’t think I’m meant to have a dog. It was just this one that stole my heart.

So, maybe I can be down because the dog is gone. It is very sad that such a great pet is in a shelter. Or, maybe I will continue to argue with my primary care physician that not only am I not depressed, but I am very happy because my life is pretty good right now.

When I go to sleep tonight, I have two amazing cats who love me and snuggle me in bed every night. Really, it doesn’t get much better than that.

I could tell her how stressful it is living in the house because it is so LOUD here. I miss my apartment because it was quiet. But, I don’t think that makes me depressed. I am more annoyed at the noise and unruliness of the neighborhood where the house is compared to the apartment.

Bottom line, I’ve tried dog gone down, and it just doesn’t work.

This 40-year old lives with two cats and is happy.

Happy 4th Birthday, Jude

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Two years ago when we were still grieving the loss of Kip, who completed our triad, Kitty and I decided to open our home, and consequentially our hearts, to a timid, shy newcomer for companionship. Not only is today the two-year anniversary of the day we adopted Jude, but it is also his 4th birthday.

Jude stole the show and is one of the loves of my life. In the two years since he has entered our home, he has come out of his shell to share with us his spunk, ingenuity, and childlike love of life. Jude has reminded me to not take life to seriously; sometimes we need to just enjoy and laugh. While his antics are sometimes aggravating, they are, for the most part, harmless, and always bring a smile.

When he is clinging to a window frame tittering about a bird outside, I jokingly call him Spider Cat for his ability to climb places I never thought possible. He is actually able to do so not only with agility but also without destroying anything in the process. With a preference for high, small spaces, Jude has figured out how to hide in the empty cupboard above the refrigerator and has also realized that if he pops out of said cupboard when I walk into the kitchen, he can usually get a rise out of me. Jude definitely keeps us on our toes.

He is the perfect companion for Kitty, who, believe it or not, at the ripe old age of 17 still likes to play every once in awhile, and Jude is happy to oblige. When they are not playing together, Jude always brings a smile in the way he plays with toys by himself or by simply chasing his own tail. He is well acclimated to the fact that it takes Kitty longer to eat due to his advanced age, and it respectful in allowing him time and space to eat his food without trying to steal it from him.

Jude still freaks out over vacuum cleaners and guests. We rarely get visitors at our house, but when we do, he always hides as if his life depends upon it. Jude has warmed up to both Kitty and I over the past two years. He often sits on my lap and loves to sit right next to Kitty. Honestly, I am surprised and delighted at how well Kitty has accepted him into our lives.

Two years ago on Valentine’s Day, I was home from work on a snow day, yet the roads north of us were bare and clear. Friends knew that we were looking for a new addition for our home, and on that day, the phone call came that the fit for us was at a shelter about two hours north. I made the drive, and spent some time confirming, that yes, this was indeed the one. Jude entered our home at a time in our lives when we were still raw and sore from Kip’s passing. Jude entered our home and our hearts with grace and style. He has completed life for both Kitty and me these past two years. Happy 4th Birthday, Jude. You are truly the love of our lives.