Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cat Encounters at Best Friends

One of the things that impresses me so much about Best Friends Animal Society is that it isn't just a shelter. Yes, they give the animals a temporary home, but they also do anything and everything in their power to train the animals and make sure they can be adopted into good homes. One of their programs is the puppy training - and part of the puppy training is a process called Cat Encounters.

Heather was excited but gentle as Sugarplum was lifted down.
Tamara Dormer, one of the dog trainers in Best Friends' Dogtown, brings her personal cat Sugarplum and introduces her to the young dogs to see how they react. The adoption specialists can then make recommendations on whether or not the dog can be in a house with cats. I sat outside the room while she introduced Sugarplum to a cattle dog. That one didn't go well; the dog tried to grab Sugarplum's neck. Tamara let Sugarplum relax on top of the fridge for a while as we talked, then she brought in Heather, a 9-month-old Doberman mix puppy.

Heather invites Sugarplum to play!
Sugarplum was a real pro. She started on top of the fridge, but when Tamara lifted her down she didn't hiss or claw. Heather thought Sugarplum was fascinating but was in no way vicious. She mainly just wanted to play, and she was easily distracted from the chase. In other words, Heather has a puppy's energy and might get a little rambunctious, but Tamara was able to say that she would deal well in a house with cats.

The ultimate sign of approval: The nose sniff! Look at Heather's tail go!
And Heather definitely is a charmer. I am a dedicated cat person and as a general rule I don't deal well with dogs. But I was seriously tempted to take her home. At one point she jumped onto the couch next to me and rolled over with her head on my lap, looking at me upside down with those big brown eyes. Then she gave me a quick doggy kiss - and I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning nose prints off the camera lens. And apparently her charm worked on someone else as well because she now has a new home. She still has some siblings at Best Friends, though. You can meet Happy, Haze, Harpo and Hopi online.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some new Best Friends

Chewy was one of the wonderful animals I met at Best Friends.
Last week I had the joy of visiting the sanctuary for Best Friends Animal Society just outside of Kanab, Utah. It is only a 2-hour drive away, but for some reason I have never wandered over there before. But I got the OK from my boss to do a travel story on the sanctuary for the magazine so I headed out there for two days to collect info.

I returned home elated, exhausted and covered with rabbit, dog, horse, cat and pig hair ... and a few feathers.

And you thought Ashi had a big belly? This is Millie, one of the "Weight Watchers" cats at Best Friends. She's a total sweetheart and yes, she let me rub that belly.

Unfortunately I had trouble getting photos. I kept losing cell service and my phone is rather old so the battery kept going dead. I got a bunch of photos with the good magazine camera but my laptop is also rather old so I couldn't get them downloaded. I finally gave up and took the camera into the office today for Laurie, our graphic designer, to download. She has the special cable and a good computer to work with. I promise, promise, promise to take a flash drive into the office on Thursday and get some of those photos so I can post them.
Ashi spent hours camped out on my jacket after I got home. I don't know if she was enjoying the smells or trying to cover them up with her own.
In the meantime I have a couple shots I managed to get on my phone. And, of course, my own cats' reaction to my trip. Ashi went ape over my jacket when I got home. It was cold the whole time I was there so my jacket went everywhere. I was covered with everything from dog slobber and cat pee to parrot droppings and half-chewed hay. She walked around sniffing it from all angles, then plopped on top of it and didn't move for hours. I had to dump her off to put the poor abused garment in the washing machine.
Yep. Diedra's sulking. I had to bribe her with treats to get a potato for my breakfast this morning.
Meanwhile, Diedra is sulking big time. As of this morning she was still hanging out in the potato box on top of the fridge. She's just lucky I didn't bring a new critter home!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Cat Person's Guide To Doing Laundry

When I first moved away from my parents' house, I was shocked to find that there were people out there who had never done their own laundry. I initiated many roommates in the artform of properly cleaning clothes.

Before you can do laundry, you must be able to get to the washer.
Then I got a cat and we had to start the lessons all over again. You see, doing laundry with cats in the house is a whole different ball game.

Step 1: Remove the cat from the top of the washer and open the lid. Check the washer drum for foreign objects such as cat toys (living or dead), stray socks and random pieces of string.

Always make sure to check the appliance before turning it on.
Step 2: Gather the laundry to be washed. Sort through it carefully for cat toys, dead animals, live animals, buried cats and missing electronics such as iPods and cell phones.

Step 3: Remove the cat from the washer.

Foreign objects - living and dead - are commonplace in cat households
Step 4: Put the washer on the proper setting and turn it on. Check the drum again for foreign objects. Scream like a little girl when you find a mouse doing a little dog paddle in the water. Scoop it out and add the laundry soap.

Step 5: Add the clothes to the washer and close the lid.

Step 6: When the washer finishes, open the dryer and remove any random objects such as cat toys, stray socks and cats.
Dryers are warm. Cats love warm. Therefore cats love dryers.

Step 7: Load the wet clothes into dryer.

Step 8: Remove the cat from the dryer and add a dryer sheet. Shut the door, then open it again and sort through the wet laundry to ensure that you have, in fact, removed all the cats.

A dryer is a "magic fingers" for cats.
Step 9: Set the dryer on the proper cycle and turn it on. Lift the Fat Brown Cat to the top of the dryer so she can enjoy the warm "Magic Fingers" sensation while the appliance runs.

Check dryer. Remove cat. Repeat as needed.
Step 10: When the dryer stops, check the clothes to see if they are still damp. If they are, remove the cat from dryer, close the door and reset the dryer.

Step 11: When the clothes are dry, empty them into a laundry basket. Remove the cat from the dryer - again - and shut the door.
Cats are efficient. They know the best time to get hair all over your work clothes is before you hang them up.

Step 10: Neatly lay out the clothes to be hung up, then go get some hangers. Remove the cat from the clothes, brush off most of the cat hair and hang up the clothes.

Each cat should have his or her own pile of laundry to "fuzz."
Step 11: Fold the laundry by colors, making sure there is a pile that matches each cat. They like to be color coordinated.

A pile of clean socks is kitty heaven.
Step 12: Do not fold the socks. Leave them loose in the bottom of a laundry basket so the cats have somewhere soft to snuggle.