Get Your Crying Towel Out

Because this is absolutely beautiful.



(via The Daily Dot)

OrvilleCopter: I Know It’s Wrong, So Why Can’t I Stop Laughing

OK, I am a cat person.  I like them, and always have.  I even re-captured one who ran away.  He’s sitting in my lap as I write this.  And even he’s laughing.

Some dude’s cat gets run over.  Rather than bury him in the backyard, he turns him into some sort of flying machine.  I guess it’s an act of love.  A tribute.  Or something.


I’ll probably be a little uncertain about this whole thing until PETA (this one, not that one), starts acting like it’s a capital offense, at which point I’ll conclude that the OrvilleCopter is awesome.

I’m Not that Kat Anymore: the Strange Adventures of Mystic the Cat

Almost three years ago, Raina and the kids found a stray mother cat and four tiny kittens living on the hard streets of Bellaire, Texas.  Being animal lovers and good citizens in general, they gathered up the family and took them to the local veterinarian, had them checked out, vaccinated and placed in the waiting room for adoption.  The mom and two of the kittens were quickly adopted by others, and two of the kittens became our cats.  Mystic, an all black cat, and his orange, white and smaller sister, Pipsqueak, joined our family when they were around eight weeks old.


Both cats fell easily into the lifestyle of housecats, meowing their gratitude every time their food bowl was empty.  They ran around late at night like possessed lions chasing invisible impalas.  They climbed the curtains and sharpened their leisure-atrophied claws on the furniture.  They are cool cats and each made friends easily with Lucky Dog.  For a couple of years, life went on relatively smoothly, interrupted only by occasional trips to the veterinarian and, for Mystic, one foreshadowing day several months ago when he managed to sneak outside for some brief exploration.  A few hours later, he came home and no one thought anymore about it.

Until April 15, 2009, when he apparently decided to give up his domestic life of luxury for the wild and feral life of a stray cat.  Somehow, he slipped outside again.  Only this time he didn’t return.  We looked everywhere, and put up posters all over the neighborhood.  We even offered a reward.  We had several tips, but each of them led to a black cat that was not Mystic.  After a month or so, we began to lose hope.  Mystic and Pipsqueak turned three on May 15, 2009, with Mystic’s whereabouts unknown.  Talk had begun about declaring him dead, probating his meager estate of cat toys and treats and, at least according to the kids, getting another cat.

Then came the first big break.

There is an abandoned house on our street, across the street and two houses down from us.  That car has been there for years and is two years out of inspection.


Our across the street neighbor (who lives in the house to the left of the abandoned house) mentioned to Raina last weekend that she had seen a black cat, along with a motley group of neighborhood and stray cats, hanging around that abandoned house.  I couldn’t imagine that Mystic would be living a few hundred feet from us, and ignoring all our frantic calling, not to mention all the posters on all the telephone poles up and down the street.  But Cassidy and I decided to take a look.

As soon as we walked into the back yard of that abandoned house, we saw a black cat that looked exactly like Mystic (does that remind anyone of an Alec Baldwin SNL skit?).  We called to him, but he casually hopped through a wide open pet door conveniently located on the side of the house.  Later, we learned from other cats that this abandoned house is a sort of clubhouse for the neighborhood cats, as well as a few possums and, as the story goes, a raccoon or two.  The neighborhood animals refer to the house as the cat frat.  You can often hear music coming from inside, and the smell of catnip is unmistakable.


After that, we made regular trips over to the cat frat, and we saw the Mystic-looking black cat several more times.  But he would not come to us, and ran away when we tried to approach him.  We called the realtor listed on the rusty For Sale sign in the front yard, but she would not confess to having a key, claiming correctly that no one was going to buy that house to live in it.  Unless one or more of the cats could find gainful employment.  She seemed sympathetic, but did not provide access into the cat frat

Since we couldn’t get inside the cat frat to reclaim Mystic, Cassidy and I decided to trap him.  We set a humane trap, baited it with a bowl of his favorite cat food and waited patiently like the expert trappers we are.  A possum, innumerable squirrels and another cat later, we caught the black cat.  Sure, he looked like Mystic, but he was really freaked out and didn’t seem to recognize us.  I thought about calling Patty Hearst for advice, or maybe one of the cat-obsessed secretaries at my office.  Ultimately, we settled for the veterinarian.  The cat was a male, was neutered (thereby calling into question the value of the whole cat frat scene, but I digress), and was about the right age.  So we brought our wayward kitty home.  We put him in a dog carrier and set it down in the house.  Lucky Dog seemed happy to see Mystic and Mystic was not the least bit nervous about Lucky Dog.  Pipsqueak hissed at him, but we figured that could be because she had been dealing with her fear and sadness at his disappearance.  I yelled at Delaney once after she almost got run over, because I was scared.

Or maybe she’s pissed because he didn’t take her with him.

We don’t know what happened during his five weeks away.  Did he pull a Chris McCandless and intentionally walk into the wild, only to be returned involuntarily via our trap?  Does he think he’s in college.  Did he get cat amnesia?  Is he a Lou Reed fan?  Did we not give him enough vitamins?


Very quickly, we confirmed that this was, in fact, Mystic.  We let him out of the pet carrier and he fell immediately back into many of his old routines.  He and Lucky Dog started hanging out together right away.  He immediately found his litter box.  He sits on my lap while I work, the same way he always has.

But he’s different now.  He and Pipsqueak generally ignore each other.  If he gets too close to her, she hisses at him.  He seems older, maybe a little world weary.

And every now and then, I see him gazing at the door, and the great wonders beyond it.  His life on the road was not perfect.  He has some battle scars and is much thinner.  But across the street, at the cat frat, there is a party going on.

I think part of him misses it.  The question is how much?

Max: a Holiday Tragedy Comes to the Court of Public Opinion

Our friends the Cohns have two little girls, Emma and Olivia, who are friends with Cassidy and Delaney.  The Cohns took Max, their family dog, to the local PetSmart just before Christmas to get him groomed for their holiday photos.  Somehow Max managed to escape from the grooming area, made it through a series of open doors and apparently tried to find his way home.  Tragically, he was hit by a car and killed before he made it.

I only met Max a few times, but from the first time I met him at one of Cassidy and Emma’s soccer games, I knew he was a cool dog.  He was one of those special dogs that you just know is good and loyal and gentle from the first minute you know him.  He was our friend, and we are saddened by his loss.  He was a member of the Cohns’ family.  The past few weeks have been really hard for Emma and Olivia.

When the Cohns contacted Petsmart to find out how Max managed to get away and what PetSmart intended to do about it, they found PetSmart’s answers very troubling:

“They said we looked up the value of your dog on the Internet, we want to give $600,” Keith Cohn told the local ABC station, who did a story on Max’s death.  He repeated that to me, and said he is having a hard time getting any substantive answers from PetSmart.  As a result, the Cohns have started a web page in memory of Max, and to speak out about this horrible incident.

max As is often the case, much of the best commentary and discussion can be found in the comments to the ABC story and the comments on the Cohns’ web site.  There are comments blaming and defending PetSmart.  There are comments by others who say they have had bad experiences at Petsmart and other groomers.  There are legal arguments, moral arguments and arguments just for the sake of arguing.  Amid all the hue and cry, however, remain two little girls who grieve for their dog.

Without question, this should not have happened.  The problem, of course, is that now that it has, what should be done about it?  Keith told me he wants PetSmart to enact and follow policies that will prevent this from happening to someone else.  He also wants PetSmart to pay monetary compensation, to his family and/or an animal shelter, to put a little bite in the policies and to ensure that such policies are followed.  PetSmart probably just wants all of this to go away and, perhaps, to avoid setting a precedent that might be be invoked by other aggrieved pet owners.

There will be no happy ending to this story.  Max is gone, and all the apologies and policies in the world won’t bring him back.  All that is left is to seek a solution that is acceptable to both parties.  Again, no one will walk away from this feeling good.  The trick will be to craft a resolution that makes it less bad.

For that to happen, the parties need to talk.  Not about legalities.  Not even about moralities.  About responsibility, reason and, ultimately, reconciliation.  Honor should be paid to Max’s memory and to the empty place his loss created in the Cohns’ house and in their hearts.  In my mind, it’s not about the money.  Money is simply, for better or worse, the stand-in for things taken that cannot be replaced. 

What is already an emotionally charged situation has been further complicated by a lack of direct, honest and sincere communication.  In my opinion, when PetSmart max2 offered the Cohns a paltry $600 for the loss of their family pet under such tragic, and preventable, circumstances, it almost guaranteed that the dispute, along with the emotions, would escalate.  Money is not going to bring Max back, but discounting his value after looking on the Internet for puppy prices is not my idea of reaching out.  One bad offer begets another, and the resolution gap begins to widen.

Unlike in days past, when an angry customer could only file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and hope, the Internet age allows anyone with a computer to bring their complaint to the court of public opinion.  Thomas Hawk did it when he had a bad experience with a camera store.  Jeff Jarvis took on Dell.  There have been others, and there will be more.

Now it may be PetSmart’s turn in the people’s court.    

I don’t know what ought to happen in this case.  Naturally, people will align along legal and moral grounds.  Perhaps that’s inevitable.  I just know that many people love their pets dearly and the loss of a pet is a tragic event that transcends legal and moral responsibility.

As an aside, while I am an animal rights supporter, I personally discount just about everything that originates from PETA, including the comments to the above pages that reference PETA.  In my opinion, PETA has become so radically bound to its philosophical position that it has lost the ability to convince the undecided.  I feel the same way about the political parties, but that’s a topic for another day.

There’s nothing anyone can do to bring Max back, but I believe the only chance to achieve any sort of closure and reconciliation is through open and honest communication.  Silence and posturing only amplify the problem when people need to hear from you.

People like two little girls who miss their dog.

Technorati Tags:

RoamEO, RoamEO, Where Art Thou Dog

As more and more GPS devices come to market, we are seeing lots of devices that allow you to track cars, people and pets.  Gizmodo has a post about a new one.

The lastest is a pet tracker cleverly (or not) called RoamEO.  I think GPS for pets makes sense.  Lucky Dog has a one of those chips that allow him to be identified should he hop a plane to San Diego or something.  I’d consider using a GPS device as well.

But not one with a limit of 1 mile.  If he’s within a mile of home, he’s not so much lost as he is out for a walk.  Granted, if he was outside of that radius, I could drive around and hope to get a beep on the unit.  But that seems less than ideal- for pet control.

But boy oh boy would I love to have one of these for quail hunting.  The unit will tell you how fast your dog is moving, which probably sounds silly to anyone who isn’t a quail hunter.  You can track 3 dogs at the same time, which is also perfect for quail hunting.

The 1 mile limit is still a little short, but I’m intrigued by the possibilities.

Lucky Dog probably won’t get a RoamEO, but some of his hunting friends might.

Now someone just needs to invent a KidEO before my kids hit the teenage years.

Tags: , ,

Pet Roll: Pet 2 (Clancy)

Shortly after we moved to the new house, my parents gave my sister a Scottish Terrier for her birthday. She named him Clancy. Like Pepsi before him, he also took off when he got out, but since he didn’t have an old house to run back to, he ran down the road to a neighbor’s house- ironically enough the grandmother of the ones who had earlier shot Pepsi.

She would feed him steak and other treats, and before long he stopped coming home altogether. Eventually, he officially became her dog. I guess that family was determined that we wouldn’t have any pets.

I have no idea how long Clancy lived or what happened to him. I don’t remember seeing him after he moved down the road, so he must not have lived too long.

I have never seen a photo of Clancy and as far as I know, none exist.

Later, I went to work for that same lady, cutting her yard and the field behind her house for $20 a pop. I remember riding the tractor and listening with one earpiece to a little red AM radio I’d won playing bingo at the beach. Stone Age iPod and all that.

One day I found that a cat had her kittens in a shed on that lady’s property. I told her I would find a home for them, but by the time I went back the next day, one of her other men had killed them.

I guess she ran hot and cold as far as pets go.

All of that notwithstanding, she was a generally nice lady. I liked her and was sad when she died, at a very old age.

Coming up next is Buck- the closest thing I have ever had to a brother.


Pet Roll: Pet 1 (Pepsi)

As I mentioned the other day, I am really enjoying Doc’s series about his pets, so I’m going to do one too.


When I was born in 1960 my family had a white cat named Pepsi. I don’t remember him, but I have heard stories about him sleeping with me in my crib when I was a baby (so much for the stealing your breath thing). Maybe that’s part of the reason I have always liked cats.

My sister named Pepsi. She doesn’t remember how she came up with that name, but it’s a little ironic, since the south in general and my family in particular were loyal Coke drinkers.

When I was almost one, we moved to a new house a few miles away. Pepsi made the trip, but when he got loose, he would high tail it back to the old house and mom or dad would have to go fetch him.

Pepsi was later shot and killed by one of the members of a trouble-prone family that lived not too far from us. I didn’t know that until this past weekend when I asked my sister what happened to Pepsi.

I once walked down the steets of Bellaire, Texas with my shotgun looking for a dog that had earlier attacked my dog and scared my wife during a walk, but I can’t imagine shooting a dog or cat except in such an extreme circumstance. I don’t like people who are cruel to animals.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know about this until now.

I have vivid memories of the rest of my pets, which included dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks and a flying squirrel. More to come.

Amyloo suggests that we do an OPML directory, like this car roll. If I can figure out how to do that, I will.


Doc's Pet Roll

Doc Searls is doing a series on the pets he has had in his life.

I think that is an really interesting idea, and even though he is only on pet number three, I have already noticed commonalities in our pet experiences- particularly the surreal experience of burying your first pet. We had a pet graveyard behind our house, where many dogs, cats, rabbits and ducks were buried. It was all good until I read Pet Cemetary. That book scared me in a big way- and I was in my 30’s when it came out.

I suspect that pet ownership and loss may be a universal experience that many of us share.

It’s good reading. I am going to read Doc’s series and then do something similar.

Pet Rolls- a good read and an interesting exercise.

Hey Doc- how about some photos to go along with the stories?