Category Archives: Animals

My Husband Saves Lives

My husband and I had just put a contract on a new house when my elderly mother, back in Maryland, got lost driving to a place she’d been many times before. I tried to talk her into moving into our Colorado home with us, but she didn’t want to impose. So my husband got on the phone with her and talked her into it.  Then, he packed her decades of belongings and brought her to our new home just 10 days after we, ourselves, had moved in.


My mother, the rabble-rouser

My mother and our younger cat

At first, my mom seemed to have her sharpness, perspicacity, and sense of humor intact, but she was almost 90 years old, and her memory wasn’t what it had been.  My husband never gave up on her, though. He would stand in front of her while she sat on the couch and lead her in a little dance.  Really, it was chair aerobics, but it kept her sharp because she had to follow his changing moves, and it got her heart racing.  Most important, it would make her laugh and she loved the attention.

My mother passed away one day before her birthday in 2011, and I believe my husband played a huge part in keeping her alive and relatively healthy for as long as she was.  Her doctor said he’d rarely seen a woman of her age so well cared-for.  She didn’t have a bruise, scratch or rash on her, no breakdown of her skin, and she was coiffed, manicured and pedicured.

No sooner had my mom passed than, in early 2012, my 13 year-old cat developed diabetes.  He drank water non-stop, was ravenous, and peed non-stop, too. He withered away from a plump 14 pounds to 9 pounds.  His hind quarters bent under, as if from arthritis, and he would often fall backward when trying to jump on a chair or table.  He was failing, and I thought he’d be dead in a year.  I was heartbroken.  This cat has been my companion longer than my second husband (my first died in a car accident in 1997 [see COINCIDENCE OR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY this blog]).  My cat obeys me as a dog would. Each morning, he jumps on my bed to snuggle and wake me up.  Each night, he does the same.  When I say, “good night…go lay down,” he jumps off the bed and exits the room.

We began giving him insulin shots.  I should say that it was mostly my husband, as he was more able than I to keep the cat still.  My husband gave him treats after each shot, and he experimented with food in an attempt to make him regain his weight.  My cat has always been an indoor cat, but now that he was so weak, we knew we could leave him on our second floor deck — which has no staircase — without fear of a kitty escape.  The cat loved being outside.  Soon, he was able to jump up on a short stone bench at the end of the deck, and roll around on the sun-warmed stone. Both my husband and I would set aside time each day to take the cat out.

imgp0610[1]Soon, I noticed a change in my cat.  He began to seek out my husband, to sit on his lap, or next to him on the couch, something he had only ever done to me.  And each night, when it was time for his shot, the cat would come and sit at my husband’s feet — not for the shot, but for the treat afterward.

My cat began to gain weight, he became more animated and playful.  He was easily jumping onto my lap again.

Now, when we’re on the deck, we have to keep a careful eye on him because he’ll jump onto the four-inch wide railing and walk the length of the house in perfect balance.  His hips are no longer bowed under.  His coat is thick and silky.

This weekend, my cat demonstrated the full extent of his recovery when he chased our younger cat around the house.  Her escape has always been to jump on a 40 inch wall that separates our upstairs hall from the stairs leading to our lower level.  Well, she jumped, all right, but then so did my 15-year-old male!

My husband, my hero.

For another fun article for cat lovers, check out WALL STREET JOURNAL sports page, A MANAGER AND HIS CATS, about baseball’s Tony La Russa,10/8/2013

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R.I.P., little fawn

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have seen the photographs my husband took of three fawns and a mother deer in our back yard.  We have so much enjoyed the reactions of many of you to these photos.  The fawns brought us joy, and we hope to have transmitted some of that joy through the photos.

That’s why we were heartbroken today to discover one of the fawns had been hit by a car.  We were riding on the bike path near our house when we saw the doe and one fawn.  A few feet away, almost hidden by tall grass, was the dead fawn.  It looked like it’s neck had been broken.  It was only a few feet from the road, so it was probably hit by a car.fawn with momfawns running near rocksfawns behind tree

I couldn’t help crying.  My husband was terribly saddened, too.  We had a somber ride home.

I guess I’m writing this as a tribute to a beautiful little creature that brought us joy and wonder whenever we saw it. It visited us with its mother many times after I tweeted the photos a couple of weeks ago.  It laid with its twin under a tree in our yard.

I need to acknowledge the joy it brought us.  This small, innocent fawn died too young in what seems a senseless death.  Its mom can’t give it a funeral, though I’m sure she mourned its death.  So the least I can do is pay tribute to this perfectly beautiful being.  I can tell the world it mattered.  We will not forget the fawn.  Rest In Peace.

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Animal Lovers, Discovery Channel Watchers, Gather ‘Round

With the third leg of the Triple Crown — the Belmont Stakes — coming up Saturday, June 8, the Wall Street Journal has two fascinating articles on the subject of Thoroughbred racing.

Those of you who want a good laugh should read HANDICAPPING THE WILD KINGDOM, a hilarious article about how a Thoroughbred would fare in the Belmont Stakes against various animals, including cheetahs, rhinos and tortoises. …

On a more serious note, animal rights activists worry about how Thoroughbreds are treated.  Are they drugged? Forced to run injured? Overworked?  True, there are certain trainers racing today who have sketchy reputations for running horses in iffy condition, but Thoroughbreds generally lead a far more pampered life than even Paris Hilton’s dogs.  Today’s Wall Street Journal has a marvelous article describing the perks of retired elite Thoroughbreds like Zenyatta and Big Brown: special ventilating systems, extra-large stalls, their own private pastures for grazing, special fences to prevent injuries, daily baths…the list goes on. Find the article at

Those of you who have read my blog or my books, know that my first novel, REGRET NOT A MOMENT, is set in the world of Thoroughbred racing (see blog entry RACISM AT THE RACES).  It begins in the year 1930, and spans three decades. In the book, my owner’s horses are beloved and pampered, just as many Thoroughbreds are today. I address racism and sexism in my book, but not animal rights.  I did a lot of research on my book.  It is historically accurate. Today, just as in the era of my book, it is still of note when a black or female races in the Triple Crown. As to animal rights and Thoroughbreds: that’s a whole other sticky wicket that I am not qualified to address.

My book was originally published by Little, Brown in hard cover and paper. The rights have reverted to me, and is newly available on Amazon Kindle

My Cousin Rescues My Dobermans and My Husband’s Ashes

Lots of you are animal lovers, so I thought you’d like the story of how Danielle’s sister, Viviane, and her husband, Paul, drove my packed Jeep cross country with my two Dobermans, my husband’s ashes, and a car full of my most prized possessions.  This is one reason why I called Viv my “guardian angel” in my last post about my cousin Danielle.

The night my husband had his fatal car accident, one of my first calls was to Viv, who immediately flew from LA to Virginia to support me.  If you’ve already seen my previous blog post — COINCIDENCE OR PARANORMAL ACTIVITY — you know what transpired in the hospital.

After my husband died, Viv stayed with me in Virginia while her husband, Paul, flew to my Colorado vacation home, picked up my Jeep and my two Dobermans, and drove them to my house in Virginia.  As if that weren’t enough, Paul and Viviane flew back to Virginia three months later, and did the whole trip in reverse so I wouldn’t have to do it myself.

Viviane is so smart that she organized the whole thing while I was still in zombie mode.  There’s a lot I don’t remember about that time, but I do know I acted quickly to sell my Virginia home so I could move to our smaller place in Colorado.  I had an estate sale, gave away my most precious things to the friends and family who had helped me, and was ready to move in three months.

Viviane and Paul flew back to pick up the dogs and the Jeep and begin their cross-country adventure.  My Dobermans were the kind you see in suspense films.  Big, docked tail, and cropped ears…you get the picture.  Calypso, my female, was a sweet-natured, highly intelligent dog I’d raised from a puppy.  She was sleek and lean. Max, the male, was a rescue dog we’d gotten when he was probably two or three — the rescue league wasn’t sure.  He either was nudging you to pet him, or kind of grumpy.  He was unpredictable and aggressive toward other dogs.  Our vet, and the trainer at the pet store, recommended for him one of those choke collars that look like large-linked chains.  He had thick fur and a very thick neck, and was impossible to control without it, especially since we hadn’t raised him (if only we’d known about the Dog Whisperer then). I wouldn’t use that collar on a dog now, but it didn’t seem to affect him and we didn’t realize he could have probably been re-trained at any age — by Cesar, at least.

The car packed to the hilt, Paul and Viv commenced the trip, which takes two or three days. Once at a destination with the dogs, and the dogs out of the car, Paul feared that the packed Jeep might attract the attention of thieves, so he wouldn’t leave my late husband’s ashes in the  car.  The ashes were in an antique-looking wood and leather container with little brass feet.  No way you could pass it off as a suitcase or purse or any other sort of case you might carry around.  I cannot imagine what people thought when he entered a restaurant carrying the thing, which was about twenty inches wide and a foot high. Given recent events, someone probably would have called the SWAT team.

Entering a hotel with the dogs was no better. When my late husband and I had made the same trip the previous December, we had tried to make the dogs look friendly by putting Christmas ribbons around their necks and big smiles on our faces. Still, when we rode the elevator and the door slid open for other guests, the people quickly backed away and said they’d wait for the next elevator.  Can you believe the exact same thing happened to Paul and Viviane?

Many hotels also had a size limit on pets, so Paul and Viv had to avoid the lobby and claim to have dogs under 25 pounds.  Every time they barked, of course, it was clear these weren’t chihuahuas.

At last, they arrived at my Breckenridge home.  Finally, the could breathe easy.  Except for one thing. My home was at an elevation of 10,000 feet and Viviane has asthma.

So when I tell you how great Viviane is, you can see it’s not just a warm, fuzzy impression on my part.  She’s been through the fire for me. I don’t have siblings, but the powers that be made up for it by giving me great cousins.

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catscuddle2Cats — a lot of people hate them.  Not I.  I love all animals, and have had dogs, rabbits, chickens, horses, and, of course, cats. I have two cats:  a 14 year-old Siamese male and an 8 year-old female.  They are both very sweet and they make it hard for me to understand how anyone can dislike cats.  I may dislike individuals of any species, but an entire species?  I don’t get it.

Mine are indoor cats because we live in area with a lot of coyotes, foxes, birds of prey, and even a few rumored mountain lions.  As a result, I take my cats out on a leash.  They enjoy it, as evidenced by the fact that the female has been known to open a cupboard and pull out her leash.

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