If there’s one firm rule we have in this house, it’s that the dogs are not allowed on the sofa unless specifically invited. How, then, to explain this:
Also, no squirrels are allowed on the porch!
In case you wonder, I’m an emotional tightwire (like many of you), waiting to find out what’s going to happen on election day—or, more likely, several weeks after election day. Will we step back from the precipice we’re dancing on? Will we put responsible adults in charge in Washington? Before we all die of Covid or drown in the melting ice caps? Will we save democracy from our worst impulses?
I can’t stand the wait, and that’s why we’re getting dog pictures on the day before the election.
Meet Billboard the cat, not to be confused with Bill the Cat (though I often do). Billboard belongs to my daughter and her husband, who moved into our downstairs apartment a few weeks ago. His name comes from the fact that he was found, abandoned, under a billboard in South Korea, by Connor many years ago.
Billboard recently met our dogs. In short order, he struck terror into the heart of McDuff (at the top of the steps), and left Jack puzzled as to why this new resident hissed at him and hurt his feelings. Connor says that Bill loves to pick fights he can’t win, with animals who have no interest in fighting. He’s a good guy, though, and we love him.
Our beloved cat, Moonlight, has left us, taken by cancer and age. She was 20 years old, almost 21. She was an amazing friend to all of us. Far from the aloof cat of Siamese stereotype, she always wanted to be part of the family, dogs and all. She used to try to come along on dog walks, but we could never get a leash and harness to work right on her. As a young cat, she competed with the dogs for dropped food. (Ask me sometime about the Battle for the Broccoli, wherein Moonlight squares off with a boxer, and the little beagle sees opportunity.) Moonlight was quite vocal, and would “Mwah” whenever stroked. She loved laps, and in response to gentle hugs would go, “Mwah! Mwah!” like a squeezebox. In the last few months, her meow evolved—first into a melodic “Moi?” and then later into a “Honk!” She was the living embodiment of “cat gravity,” which prevents you from getting up with a cat in your lap, and excelled at putting whoever was holding her to sleep.
Over the last couple of years, she came through two surgeries for skin cancer with flying colors. Our vet was amazed at her resilience. “Ordinarily, at her age, we wouldn’t even be having a conversation about surgery,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief. Here’s a picture of her, after one of the operations.
I love animals, and Moonlight had a unique place in my heart. I hate this part of loving animals, where your heart is broken at the end. It’s probably going to be hardest on my daughter Jayce, to whom Moonlight has been a special friend for the greater part of her life. We will grieve together.
The timing could hardly be worse, as I’m leaving shortly for a convention in Philadelphia. But the last 24 hours have been telling, with noticeable decline in her strength—and it seemed better to say good-bye now, rather than endure worse scenarios while I’m gone. But there is no good time. At the vet’s, she put up a final fight: Even in her severely weakened state, it took an extra injection to stop that stalwart heart of hers.
Moonlight, I hope you find little Sam the beagle, and Hermione the boxer, and all of your other friends waiting for you on the other side. Peace now, little one. Peace.
For the second time this year our mooncat, Moonlight, has gone through surgery for removal of skin cancer tumors. The first time, we didn’t know it was cancer, and only learned about it from the biopsy afterward. She’s 19 ½ years old, and the vet didn’t give her good odds to last long. But seven months later, although other tumors were still growing, she was still a happy and otherwise healthy cat. Dr. Parker said, “Ordinarily I wouldn’t even consider a second surgery on a cat this age. But this is one amazing cat.” This time he took tumors off three different locations, in one operation. Here are two of them.
This left us with a fashion problem—or, rather, how to keep her from licking or scratching at the sutures without resorting to a cone that would make her depressed. The answer: a two-piece suit. Two socks cut out to fit over her, one lengthwise over her head and torso, and one across the back of her shoulders to cover her front shoulder. Seems to work so far. And she seems in good spirits, doing A-okay on the first night of her recovery. And, I think she looks rather elegant. Don’t you?
Captain Jack has finished up his rehab from the TPLO surgery for his torn ACL. He’s recovered with flying colors, and is cleared to begin transitioning to normal doggy fun activities. The doc even said he could return to bike rides, as long as we’re careful, because the straight-ahead running will be good exercise, and less risky to his other ACL than the typical bounding, turning, reversing border-collie herding that he loves so much.
Jack loved going to PT, and generally went beyond excited to hyper while he was there. The therapist took a picture of him for the rogues gallery of patients. That’s him in the upper left corner.
Captain Jack is coming right along in his recovery from ACL surgery. He’s already had two sessions with doggie PT, including time in the hydro tank—an underwater treadmill. He was a little wigged out at first, but he caught on after a while. How do you get a dog to walk straight and steady on a watery treadmill? Peanut butter!
Allysen’s mom came home from the rehab center not quite a week ago (following a broken hip), which caught us off guard due to poor communication from the rehab center. We did not expect The System to spit her out quite that soon. It’s been an absolute maelstrom of activity, finding out what we need to know about equipping the apartment, acquiring the equipment, setting up 24-hour care, learning a million things we never needed or wanted to know before. Early on, Allysen hired a care manager, without whose help I don’t think we would have survived the transition. But we’re getting there. Here’s a picture of her with Allysen and Jayce.
Meanwhile, Captain Jack smolders about being confined to a single room at a time, and wearing the Healing Hat, a.k.a. Helmet of Courage. (We do not call it [Cone of Shame] in this house!) Drugs are wonderful, when they work. But other times, the border collie spirit sneers at sedatives. Drugs? We don’t need no steenking drugs!
Moonlight has had to learn some navigational tricks, getting around the newly barricaded apartment. She’s almost twenty, and she can’t really vault over child gates anymore. Here she is, checking out the Bridge to the Future that I built for her at one checkpoint.