Animals: Casualties of OUR military

September 22, 2009

            To those of you new to my blog, so far it’s been pretty mild, from an animal activist point of view. Well except for a couple of entries where I ranted about Michael Vick and his return to the NFL, because I just had to. But other than that my blog has mainly centered about my three children of the four-legged variety. I’ve coined the term ‘quadra-peds’. Anyhow my intention for this blog is to delve into some very serious animal issues that most people are not aware of. If that offends you then I’m sorry. But don’t despair I promise I’ll insert some humorous ‘tails’ of my cats to break up the seriousness of the blog. 

            Did you know that our military trains its medics by using live animals? They don’t broadcast it because after all, don’t they face enough negative publicity? To animal activists it is a travesty that must be exposed.  

            There was an episode on Grey’s Anatomy last season that dealt with this very subject (Season 5, episode 6, ‘life during wartime’). One of the doctors, a trauma surgeon recently back from Iraq, conducted a skills lab for the residents and interns. It was a training session where they would learn by ‘working with live tissue’. The live tissue turned out to be four anesthetized live pigs on operating tables. Horrified the doctors watched the surgeon pull out a knife and mutilate each of the pigs in various areas of their bodies. He then told the doctors to work as teams to save the pigs.         

            Isabel Stevens, portrayed by Katherine Heigl (an animal activist in real life) refused to take part in the exercise. Her character informed the surgeon that with today’s technology there is no need to torture live creatures. She goes so far as to call him a ‘monster’ and then later ‘a murdering sadistic bastard.’

            One resident and four interns take part in the exercise and manage to keep all four pigs alive. At the end of the day the surgeon comes back to see their work, he congratulates them and then tells them to kill the pigs. The resident balks at the mere suggestion. Ironically the surgeon says, “They’ll be in pain, those are massive injuries which will require months of recovery. To keep them alive after that is not humane.”

            Naively I thought that the writers went to extreme measures to allow Katherine Heigl to highlight her animal activism. After doing some research I realized that this actually happens in this country.

            In fact the Department of Defense (DoD) actually has three videos on YouTube showing graphic ‘combat trauma training courses’ which are claimed to improve military medicine. The U.S. military blatantly disregards the lives of pigs, goats and Vervet monkeys in these videos without any remorse. The pigs and goats are subjected to severe injuries including stab wounds, gunshot wounds, burns and amputations before they are killed. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense injects the Vervet monkeys with a toxic dose of the drug physostigmine (a nerve gas) which induces seizures, difficulty breathing and eventually death. In that video the students and trainer merely stand there and watch as the monkey suffers a seizure and starts to go into respiratory distress. That is nothing short of an abomination and beyond inhumane. The instructor specifically states that the “primary function of the exercise is observation.” I for one would like to observe that trainer experience a seizure and respiratory distress for a similar injection. The link for this video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYMZFvJEO6I and the other videos can be reached from the same link. Please be advised that the videos are very graphic and as shocking as any PETA video I’ve ever watched.

            On June 3, 2009, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) submitted a legal petition to Department of Defense officials asking them to exercise their authority to require that existing alternative methods that could immediately replace the use of live animals. See http://www.pcrm.org/resch/dod/petition.pdf

            The Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps and the Israel’s Carmel Medical Center have developed a non-animal training curriculum which includes lectures, simulation training, and the use of moulage (actors apply makeup and mimic the symptoms of the chemical warfare casualties). The irony of Middle Eastern countries using more humane methods than the U.S. is not lost on me. It shouldn’t be lost on you either.

            In this country, a professor at Harvard, who is also a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, has organized numerous scenarios that simulate mass casualty incidents and nerve gas attacks. Similar models are used through the U.S. to prepare personnel for mass casualty incidents in the instance of a terrorist attack. In my opinion, the U.S. military’s use of the live animals is nothing more than a terrorist attack against animals.

            To skeptics who wonder exactly how much of a problem this is, in 2007 alone, more than 5,000 live goats and 3,500 live pigs were used and killed in combat trauma training courses at Fort Sam Houston, Fort Bragg, and elsewhere. So, approximately 9,000 animals give up their lives each year, for military training purposes, when they don’t have to.

            The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has also jumped on the bandwagon by pointing out that neither the Air Force Expeditionary Medical Skills Institute’s Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills nor the Navy Trauma Training Center use animals for trauma training – “more proof that it is not necessary to use animals in order to teach these treatment skills.” I’d really like somebody to explain to me why the Army is so different.

            PETA has a petition that will be sent to President Barrack Obama asking him for an executive order requiring the DoD to replace the use of animals in trauma and chemical-casualty training exercises with available non-animal methods. As of this writing on September 21, 2009, I am one of 20,742 signatures on that petition. http://www.peta.org/trauma discusses the situation and links you to the petition which is actually through a cause on Facebook. The petition can be reached directly on Facebook at http://apps.facebook.com/causes/petitions/245.  PETA also has a letter online that people can sign to be forwarded to their local Congressperson. The letter can be found at https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1710.

            I, of course being a writer, an attorney, a lover of all animals, a parent of three cats, and a former EMT, had to sign the letter. I took the liberty of changing and adding language to personalize it though.  

            So I ask you, if you are an animal lover go to the PETA website and sign the petition, and the letter to your Congressperson. Go to the PCRM website and read their petition and look at the videos.

            Animals are innocents without a voice. We must be that voice for them. Help me be that voice.

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Riley Matthew

August 23, 2009

riley lounging

This is Riley Matthew . I’ve been meaning to do a post about him for a while but I got distracted by football. Now you’ve met Riley before in the posting called ‘a child in need’. Riley developed an eye problem when he was six months old and eventually had to have eye surgery. A lot of closed minded people thought we were insane to drive to a specialist in Connecticut (about 4-5 hrs from our house) and pay a substantial amount of money for surgery for A CAT.

     People just didn’t understand that Riley was OUR CHILD not our cat. Just like our 2 daughters we (Kevin & I) would do anything for our kids.

     Riley is my little angel. He was so good when he had his eye problem. Even though we all went through a horrible experience it brought us all closer together.

     I say Riley reminds me of the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz. He’s red, well technically ‘red smoke’ so he looks like a lion. He struts around like he owns the place until Calie glares at him and he runs away in fear. He’s also very majestic sometimes. He’ll just sit there and give you this look like ‘worship me’. Then again he is a purebred so maybe he knows something we don’t.

    From the picture above you’ll see he has that pushed- in nose. Its called ‘peke-faced’ persian because it looks like a Pekingese’s face. Some people think he looks mean but he is the sweetest, gentliest soul.

   And he’s spoiled rotten. Somehow I don’t even remember when it started but one day he came into the bathroomwith me. Thanks to Tigger not liking closed doors (see earlier posts) I usually leave the door open about an inch. All 3 have no respect for privacy and just waltz right in. Well one day while I’m brushing my teeth, in comes Riley. He jumps up onto the toilet seat – yes we have to keep the cover down because all 3 have claimed it as their ‘thrown’. Anyway, when Riley wants attention he talks. Okay I know what you’re thinking, he talks ‘cat’ but he still talks. Experts say that a cat can learn up to about a 20 word vocabulary. They really do understand us with a lot of things. Anyway, Riley gave me this ‘pay attention to me Mommy’  face and made a ‘wah’ noise. After finishing my teeth I bent down and started to pet him. Well he started to do it regularly and we got into a routine. Now he comes in, stands up on the toilet seat so that his front paws on the top of the bowl and he looks over his shoulder at me and ‘wah’s me. This has now become his request, no his demand for A MASSAGE. I know you think I’m crazy but he loves me to massage his back. And if I try to skimp and rush through it he ‘wah’s at me in complaint. At the end of the massage I tap (love tap) him on his butt and he jumps down from the toilet.

     The cute thing now is that anytime anyone goes near the bathroom and he’s around he races you to it. It’s hilarious. I can also get him back really good. You see the way our house is set up, from the  living room you can either continue down the hall to the bathroom, or you can make a left and goes downstairs. If he thinks you’re going to the bathroom he’ll run and then I go downstairs instead just to torture him. You know what he does? He whine and howls like an injured wolf. He’s actually woke me up during the night by howling from the toilet seat. I promptly explained to him that the massage parlor is closed at 3:00 a.m. Sometimes if he thinks you’re coming back, he falls asleep in there.. LOL

     But the best part of Riley is that he loves to sleep with us in bed. He prefers to have my pillow but if my head’s there, he makes an adjustment. He plops right next to my head, so you can barely even see me. He has woke me up a number of times by licking me in the ear like a dog. That wakes you up fast, let me tell you.. If I’m awake when he gets up on the pillow he’ll snuggle with me so that his nose in against the side of my neck and it is just the most precious feeling. It brings tears to my eyes.

    You know how experts say that cats smother babies. I’m sure there is truth to it and it probably is a jealous thing but…Riley has plopped on my head actually my face a couple of times and I’ve had to move him off. He wasn’t trying to kill me (at least I don’t think he was) but he just wanted to be as close to me as possible. I don’t know it’s just my opinion.

     Anyway that’s enough gushing about my baby boy.

    Talk soon.

Falcon turns into an Eagle

August 14, 2009

  Sorry guys I know that I still haven’t finished my blog about my son Riley but this Michael Vick thing just keeps coming back.

  I’m sure that if you’ve been watching the news you’ve heard that the Philadelphia Eagles SIGNED Michael Vick. (Gasp – ‘the horror’)

  My first comment is ‘What the hell were they thinking?” No team can be in that dire straits to need Michael Vick on their bench!!! Hello you already have McNabb who is an excellent QB.

    Yeah sure Vick might have been awesome back in 2006 when he last played. Since then he’s lost his A-game. Prison will do that to you.

     I hope Reid thought about how this will impact McNabb – does he see it as a good thing? or a potential replacement?  As far as I’m concerned McNabb is one of the best players Philly has. I would be leary about making him want to leave.

  My second comment comes from another NFL story playing out in the media dealing with Plaxico Burress. Okay I’ll admit that I’m a HUGE Giants fan and I think Burress is a wonderful player that the Giants will surely miss. He’s being indicted on 2 counts of criminal possession of a weapon and is facing a MINIMUM of 3 1/2  yrs in the slammer. That’s for mistakenly shooting himself in the leg in a nightclub in NYC.  3  1/2 yrs Minimum and Vick served 23 months for what he did.

    This just goes to show you that animal cruelty cases need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and that the penalties have to be harsher. Vick should still be sitting in a jail cell NOT on a bench on the sidelines. That is the really moral to this blog. Although I’m ranting about football the fact remains that animal cruelty does not get the ‘punishment’ it deserves. We need to fight on the state level and federal level.

     I think somebody needs to warn Philly that they better be prepared for the backlash of their actions. Philly will DEFINITELY lose fans over this.

   There’s always been a big rivalry between Giants and Eagles — this just adds to it for me. They play on Nov 1st and Dec 13th and all I can say is ‘bring it on’. If Vick does get to play (GOD FORBID) I hope whatever team they’re playing sacks the shit out of him. I’d even be okay with some injury that would keep him out for a few games if not the rest of the season.

Talk soon

K

NFL Comm. needs psych evaluation

July 30, 2009

   Again my blog about Riley is getting pushed off due to the urgency of this subject.  As I’ve said before, this blog is for animal lovers and as an attorney for animals I have to comment on the whole Michael Vick situation. For those of you who feel that he should be allowed to play in the NFL let’s agree to disagree. I’m climbing on my soap box again but I promise to look at it from both sides.

On the one hand, there are those who think that Michael Vick could never finish ‘repaying his debt’ to society. What he did and let be done, to those dogs was nothing short of a massacre. No amount of money or prison time is going to make up for those dogs lost lives. People say that ‘well he killed animals not people…there’s a difference.’ No IT ISN”T different. A life is a life. If he had killed that number of people instead of  dogs he would still be in jail for a long time. And he definitely wouldn’t ever be playing football again.

Others say ‘he paid his debt to society’ leave him alone and let him live his life…his livelihood is football…reinstate him. To those people I want to say ‘speaking without thinking about the impact on animals and just responding to that’ this is what I say…

To those of you who haven’t heard, Vick has been conditionally reinstated — he can’t play for the first 6 games of the season. Now he just has to find a team that will take him. Think a second about that team – say for example it was the NY Giants — (my favorite team) I’d kick Tom Coughlin’s ass myself. But I digress. You’re a parent and your 6 year old son looks up to Vick and wants to wear his jersey and be just like him when he grows up…do you really want him to be just like Vick?? No matter how much time goes by Vick is never going to get rid of this bad publicity… is he really the best role model??? A convicted felon. I think that whatever team takes him is going to suffer some severely bad publicity and lose fans over it.

I’ve never been a fan of the Atlanta Falcons but I am now and you know why?? The owner Arthur Blank tried to trade Vick (that’s like trying to get a job for someone from Enron) to no avail so he let him go. Vick’s contract with the Falcons wasn’t suppose to expire until 2013. Blank actually is fighting Vick to get some of the signing bonus money back. The point is that Blank wanted absolutely nothing to do with Michael Vick.  Blank earned himself a fan just by those actions – I am now a Falcon fan.

As for my men in blue – I’ve loved the Giants since the late 1980s and they are starting training camp on Monday in Albany at SUNY Albany and I already have my season pass for it. I love them playing this close to me, where I’m 50 ft away from them as they practice. But I have to admit even with this love, I’d have to serious consider my loyalty if they considered Michael Vick. Thankfully I think that Coughlin and the higher ups are sufficiently happy with Eli Manning so it shouldn’t effect me. But I don’t know if I could get past it.

I’ve heard some people say they are going to boycott the NFL all together. I can’t do that because I love football too much.

Another very good point that I’ve heard is that Pete Rose did a hell of a lot less and he’s still banned from baseball. Which gets me back to my title

“what the hell was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thinking????”

Animal Activism 101

July 26, 2009

    Keeping in line with my blog today’s entry should be all about my baby, Riley but it isn’t going to be. Today I’m going to jump on my soapbox about animal activism. Some of you might be turned off by that and I’m sorry but part of my mission in life is to improve the lives of animals everywhere in whatever way I can.

    The easy ways are: adopt from a shelter, donate to animal causes, spay or neuter all your pets etc., put a bumper sticker on your car, wear an activism shirt, become a vegetarian.

    The hard ones involve taking a stand on a topic. Doing something like joining an organization and attend their rallies, send letters to congressmen or President Obama. Volunteer at your local shelter. Make your voice heard. You have to remember that animals don’t have a voice, WE ARE THEIR VOICE. If we don’t do anything, than nobody will.

    For those of you who care about shelter animals PLEASE go to this site. It’s a wonderful site where the advertisers pay for food for animals in shelters. The amount is based on the number of ‘clicks’ on the button by visitors to the site. Each click provides .6 bowls of food. It’s  www.theanimalrescuesite.com. It also has a section for signing petitions for various causes involving animals. I would ask every person reading this entry to please go to that site and check it out. It isn’t just about animals either, there are also links for other causes such as breast cancer, literacy, hunger etc.

    As an attorney in NYS I’m a member of the NYS Bar Assocation which has sections on a variety of topics of law as well as committees. The committee that I’ve been involved with for 4 years now is called the ‘Committee on Animals and the Law’ or CAL. We not only help people throughout NYS with animal cases, but we also refer cases to the correct people who can help them. We also have a website with a blog and resources and publications for people. I’m a member of the Legislation Subcommittee which involves us looking at proposed bills in the assembly/senate, seeing which ones we want to oppose or support and then choosing ones to do memorandums on. The memos then go to the legislature for their consideration with the bill. I’ve personally worked on bills involving penalties for leaving animals in cars in extreme temperatures; providing adequate shelter for dogs chained outside; and increasing penalties for repeat offenders of animal cruelty.

    I’m also the Chair of the Publications Subcommittee which involves us drafting and distributing a brochure on Animal Law in New York State, a biannual electronic newsletter on a variety of topics from pet trusts to international wildlife treaties. A current topic hot off the presses is the influx of people leaving animals behind in foreclosed houses. We’ve drafted tipsheets for realtors, banks, neighbors etc. and compiled a database to send the sheets via a listserve. The sheets tell people who to call and what to do to save those animals.

   Finally I don’t think any blog entry on this topic would be complete without mentioning PETA. I will grant you that sometimes I believe PETA members go a little too far at times, but their hearts are in the right place and their message is good.

    For example right now, one of their action alerts involves three hospitals that continue to use LIVE AWAKE CATS for their students to practice intubation on. You know where they push the annoying and painful breathing tube down your throat (hopefully not down your esophagus) and breathe for you. The three hospitals in question are St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Heartland Regional Medical Center and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.  

Because of pressure from PETA the University of Connecticut Health Center has stopped using live cats and gone with the simulators or dummies. If EMS can train on dummies why can’t these schools. Hell when a person is intubated during general anesthesia for surgery they AREN’T AWAKE FOR IT.

    What’s worse is that The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) RECOMMEND using dummies instead of the live cats.

   PETA has a letter all drafted and addressed on it’s website. All you have to do is type in your name and off it goes to the individual schools. Please do things like this because that’s how things get done.

    Enough soap box for today — stay tuned for Activism 102!!

I leave you with one quote from Gandhi “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress, can be judged by the way its animals are treated” and another one from the Animal Legal Defense Fund – we’re probably the only attorneys whose clients are all innocent.

Hug an animal – you can’t help but smile 🙂

Calie

July 25, 2009
A loving moment between Mommy and Calie

A loving moment between Mommy and Calie

  The day we met Calie she was only 7 weeks old. Her birthday is February 14th so she’s our little valentine. She was the smallest little angel I had ever seen. Of course Kevin and I couldn’t wait to hold her. He held her first and then handed her off to me as she meowed. I snuggled her against my chest and I remember I was wearing a dungaree jacket. She got so content that she actually fell asleep on my chest like that. I had to wake her up to put her back in her cage. Since she was only 7 weeks we couldn’t take her home until she was 8 weeks. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a mother was leave her there. I so wanted to scoop her up and take her home. So the following week we brought our carrier and took our ‘Calie’ home. I had decided on the name because she was a ‘calico’ with white, brown and black markings. We were told she was a ‘domestic longhair’ but we’ve since found out that she might not be a purebred but she is a Norwegian Forest Cat (very similar to a Maine Coon).
    The first thing she did in the car (safely in her carrier since we had learned from Tigger) was she’d cry when the car was moving. When Kevin stopped at an intersection or red light Calie would stop crying. As soon as he’d start up again she’d cry. We never did figure out what was wrong with her because now she rides in the car and doesn’t complain.
     When we introduced her to Tigger (who was just a few days away from turning one) they immediately hated each other. I mean hiss at each other, let me at her HATE. Here is this tiny kitten the size of a mouse and a pretty full grown 1 yr old. That weekend was the longest two days of our lives. I thought sure they’d kill each other or us. Somehow, we made it through and they got used to each other. Since they are only a year apart, Tigger decided that her baby sister was her baby. To this day, Tigger will sometimes lie next to Calie and lick her like a mommy would. It’s funny because when Calie decides she has had enough she’ll try to get up and move away. Tigger will literally put a paw on Calie’s head and hold her there until she is done. Sometimes Calie will go over and plop against Tigger just wanting to sleep together. Of course now Tigger weighs about 8 lbs and Calie weighs about 15 lbs. so Tigger isn’t always happy to see her.
    Our first mistake with Calie was feeding her. Since Tigger was threatening to murder her we took her into the bathroom, closed the door and gave her a can of wet food. I had chosen wet stuff  because of her ‘little itty bitty teeth’. Well it soon became obvious to us that she had never had wet stuff before. For the past 7 weeks she had been on ‘kitten’ dry stuff. She inhaled the wet stuff. I mean like a little vacuum cleaner. It didn’t last more than a couple of minutes in her bowl and then it was gone. And we were gone. Calie has loved food, especially wet stuff since that day. These days she’ll nibble on her dry food breakfast, but she lives for her wet stuff supper.  
     Our first night with Calie (learning from Tigger) we kept her in the bedroom with us. Of course since Tigger was still threatening her life, we kept her in the carrier by the side of the bed on the floor. While Kevin can sleep through an earthquake, I’m a light sleeper. So I was the one who got up with her when she cried a number of times that night. One incident involved her having diarrhea in her carrier. Now look at her colorings — her tummy and butt are white, pure white. They weren’t white that night. Picture the scene from three men and a baby where Tom Selleck is holding the baby without a diaper and doesn’t know what to do with her. That was me. Kevin was snoring and Calie was covered in poop. I ended up having to clean her in the bathroom sink and throw out the little blanket she had in the carrier. Kevin’s first words in the morning were ‘why didn’t you wake me?’ Well it was kinda hard to do anything with a dripping, squerming, poop covered kitten.
     Calie started out as a very friendly cat. She would let anybody hold her and she loved her grandparents and visitors. She was very interested in the guy who put in our heating/cooling sytem in our apartment. He showed her his tape measure and how it could slide in and out and she was over the hills in love with him. I think she was actually sad the day the guy finished.
    
     The only serious mistake we made with Calie happened when she was around 1. She had not been feeling well for a couple of days, was lethargic and didn’t want to eat. That wasn’t Calie. We knew something was wrong with her so we took her to the vet. At this point, every time she had been to the vet it had been for shots so she was at the point where she still liked the vet. The vet said he thought she had some type of stomach bug and was a little dehydrated. He said she needed to stay overnight and have an IV. We took it hard because neither Tigger nor Calie had ever stayed at the vets. Well we left her there against our better judgment and went home to sulk for the night. The next morning we went and picked her up. She seemed more herself and was rehydrated. Although we can’t prove it and she can’t tell us, something happened to her that night at the vets. I don’t know if she thought we had left her and weren’t coming back for her. Or maybe she was scared of the other animals since she was used to just Tigger. Or maybe one of the techs mistreated or hurt her. But something definitely happened.
    Our sweet, loveable, friendly cat turned from an extrovert into an introvert overnight, literally. To this day she hates company, hides when family and friends come over. If someone even just talks to her she swats at them and hisses. When she goes to the vets (a different one) she hisses and causes such a fit that we only take her when it is absolutely necessary. It is just too traumatic for her. Our vet is good natured and laughs when she hisses at him. He tells her he isn’t afraid of her. Of course his tech usually looks like their going to pee their pants as they hold her down with oven mitts. One time she actually spit at the vet.
   So now Calie has become our special needs cat, while Tigger is open and friendly. It’s like they’ve switched personalities or something. When company comes over even family we have to warn them to NOT  TOUCH Calie or they risk their hands.
   Even with us, if you walk too close to her she’ll swat at your leg and hiss. Almost as if she’s afraid you’ll step on her. Maybe that was what happened at the vet, who knows. She also is very good at letting us know when she’s done with hugs and petting by pouncing on our arm, hissing and sometimes even drawing blood. Another thing she does that I’ve noticed is that if you reach towards her and move too fast she pounces. If you put her hand to her and let her smell it and see that you’re not going to hurt her, then she relents and lets you pet her or whatever. So there is something about fast movement as well.
   But because we’re used to her, we just protect her from strangers, go easy and gentle with her and love her no matter what.
    There are some really good things about Calie as well. She’s the funniest cat ever when she wants to be. She’ll sleep in the weirdest positions, in the weirdest places. Currently her favorite place to sleep is a paint tray. Other places are empty 30 pack of beer boxes, an other box. She’s convinced that the couch is hers. God forbid Kevin and I want to sit next to each other on the couch. That is not allowed when Calie is around. She also farts. Usually when she’s sound asleep on the couch between us, lying on her back with all 4 paws up in the air, she silently farts. You are just sitting there doing whatever and then suddenly you smell it and you’re like oh my God what did you eat? God she smells, I almost want to run for th eair freshner.
    And then there is the way she gets along with her little brother Riley — but that’s the subject of another post.

Tigger

July 24, 2009

   I

Tigger lounging on the fireplace without a care in the world!

Tigger lounging on the fireplace without a care in the world!

This is a picture of my eldest daughter Tigger. We named her that because she looks like a ‘tiger’ with her stripes and she bounces through the house like Tigger does.

When we got her we had a choice of her or her two sisters. She kept hiding in the back of the cage and wouldn’t let us touch her. Her sisters on the other hand were all over my husband and me. That’s how I picked her. I said I want the one in the back that is scared and hiding.

People say that when you have kids you learn on the first one and therefore are better parents for the later ones. That is so true. Poor Tigger we put her through Hell and made a number of mistakes with her.

On the way home, on the day we got her, she started to cry in the little carry box they gave us. So stupidly I took her out of the box in the car. Mistake # 1. Well she was quicker than I was and jumped onto the dashboard. We had a Neon at the time which had a huge dashboard. She took one look through it at all the traffic and I thought her little head would explode. Needless to say she quickly decided the little carry box wasn’t so bad after all.

When we got her back to the apartment we immediately let her out of the carry box. Mistake #2 Introduce you new child to your apartment/house one room at a time so that you don’t overwhelm them. Our apartment consisted of a livingroom/dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms. All the doors were open and she had full rein of the apartment. Well Tigger flipped out!! She ran around hiding under things as we tried to catch her. Then she ran into the kitchen and found a small hole at the bottom in the corner of the cabinets and proceeded to climb into it. Mistake # 3 Kitten proof the house/apartment BEFORE you bring home your new addition. I panicked, mainly because I thought we’d never see Tigger again. We had no idea where that hole went. We figured she was in the pipe system three apartments away. Oh yeah, I failed to mention. We weren’t supposed to have pets in the apartment. So calling the Super wasn’t the greatest idea. What we ended up doing is putting down a plate of food by the opening and coaxing her out that way. It took a while but it worked and we immediately closed up that hole.

The first night with her we decided to camp on in the living room with the sleeping bags. This was because it was her first night home and she was remained under the couch. We figured if we were close she might come out from under the couch. No such luck. The only thing we got was a backache from sleeping on the floor.

Time went on and Tigger finally got used to us but was still very skittish. She wouldn’t let any of us pick her up and she wouldn’t come to you if you called her. She liked to hide and then you had to seek. (I should have realized then that she was TRAINING US)

At night my husband and I would tell her goodnight and go to bed, closing our bedroom door. Well Tigger hated the closed door and proceeded to put a hole in the carpet by the door. We thought she was just acting out, she really just wanted to come in with us. Mistake #4 Listen to them when they are trying to tell you something. We didn’t and we had a chunk of carpet we had to replace before we moved.

Back then we considered Tigger our special needs child. She needed extra love and affection but on her terms. (Again with the education).

When Tigger was a year old, we decided to get her a sibling to play with. I was in my 3rd year of law school and my husband was working full time and Tigger seemed bored. Even with a little sister Tigger didn’t really get over her skittishness.

It’s actually taken years of giving her love and support when she wants it. Now she is actually the best adjusted child we have. She comes to her name, loves attention, helps me type this blog, and hates any closed door.

Any meaning even the bathroom door. If you close it all the way you’ll see this little paw wave at you from under the door as she tries to open it. If you leave it open a little bit, then she can walk in and out as she chooses. If it’s not open enough, she has no qualms with using her paw to open it more so that she fits inside.

With regards to her interaction with her siblings, with her sister who is only a year younger she acts like a mom, with her brother who is 4 years younger she actually sees him as a playmate. They love to chase each other through the house. Well Tigger runs and Riley chases her. I’m not sure how much fun Tigger actually has but she plays good. Her new thing is that if they get anywhere near our bedroom during their little ‘marathon’ she loves to jump up on our bed, run across us and dive off the other side. Her brother runs around the bed on the floor losing precious time and she can easily get away from him. Of course a cat bouncing over your bed in the middle of the night isn’t that much fun for us, especially since we have a full-motion waterbed so it really bounces us around.

Since our children are indoor only cats, we tried them on ‘cat grass’ as a treat many years ago. It looks like a little tray of grass that they munch on. It helps their digestive system so they don’t get hairballs etc. Well when I was at the lawfirm I would grow it in my office (I got a lot of comments about the WEED I was growing). Tigger wouldn’t let me grow it at home because as soon as she saw a sprout she’d pull it out and eat it. Well stores around here (PetSmart and Petco) sell little containers of it. Tigger munches on that stuff like there is no tommorow. The other two kids could care less. Tigger is hilarious with it. Sometimes she’ll put her paw in it to hold it down so she can pull a long strand of grass out. When it starts to die (lasts about a week) she pulls it out of the container. She eats it on one of the hutches – she knows that’s where the cat grass goes. If you walk to the hutch with a bag from PetSmart she knows what it is and beats you to the hutch. Then when you replace the old with the new she glares at you for touching her old one. But the funniest thing she does is when she decides it’s time for a new one. She’ll get the grass out of the container and she’ll throw it off the hutch onto the floor. Leaving this clump of dead grass with yellow roots and dirt. Sometimes she keeps the grass and throws the container.

The one thing that I’ve learned with the 3 kids is that each are unique in their mannerisms, their needs and desires etc.

So that’s a little bit about Tigger. Watch for another post on Calie.

A Child in Need

July 9, 2009

      Today I want to tell you a story about my son Riley. He’s 8 yrs. old now.  He’s a purebred persian with the pushed in nose. He’s what they call a red smoke with beautiful amber colored eyes.

     One day in March 2002, when he was nine months old, he woke up and began rubbing his eye. He wouldn’t open it and it kept tearing and he kept rubbing. My husband and I closed ourselves in the bathroom with him and tried to look at his eye. We couldn’t see anything wrong, but he was in obvious frustration, and likely pain. 

     Of course as it always happens, it was a Sunday so our vet was closed. We brought him to an emergency clinic (veterinary version of urgent care center) where he was diagnosed with a corneal ulcer. The vet said it could have been caused by a number of factors, one of which being a scratch to the eye by one of his sisters. To this day we still don’t know what happened. We have learned though that the persian breed, especially with the pushed in nose (called peek-faced because they look like a pekingese) is prone to this type of ailment.  Well the emergency clinic gave us drops and then told us to follow up with our regular vet.

     We followed up with our vet and over the course of the next six months Riley was on/off eye drops. Eventually at six months our vet told us that Riley had developed a corneal sequestrum. Essentially it means he developed a scab over the scratch which was covering part of his cornea.

      We were given the option of letting Riley live like that or we could see an ophthalmologist. Duh of course we chose the specialist.  She agreed with the diagnosis and tried Rily on some stronger eye salve. We tried that for a couple months without success. She recommended surgery to remove the scab and do a kind of corneal graft from the sclera (white part of the eye) so that he could get his full vision back.

       Add in a couple of facts: (1) between our first visit with specialist and the surgery four months later, she moved her practice to Connecticut, 4 hours away from our house; and (2) the surgery cost @ $1500.00.

       The lawyers at the firm I worked at thought we were absolutely crazy to even consider it. Riley was after all ‘ONLY A CAT’. As one attorney put it does he really have to have perfect vision, it isn’t like he’s blind or anything.

      I was absolutely furious – hello people, this is MY SON we’re talking about. One boss actually teased me and said he’d take care of Riley for free – he just needed a bag, a few rocks and a bridge to throw him off of. NOT FUNNY!!!!!

      For people out there with the like 2-legged variety of children, ‘is there anything you wouldn’t do for your child if they needed surgery?’ 

     No you wouldn’t even flinch, you’d be on the next plane to whatever hospital that could provide the best care to your child, whatever the cost. That is exactly what we did.

    It is uncomprehensible to me that people can’t grasp the fact that MY CHILDREN HAVE FOUR LEGS. We adopted them and we love them the same as any family who adopts a 2-legged child.

    Needless to say, Riley had the surgery and is perfectly healthy now. If you open his eye and know where to look, you can see a little scar on the white part of his eye, but his cornea is perfect.

    So to you parents of the 2 legged variety who can’t understand parents of quadra-peds doing what we did. I have to say that I’m really sad for you because you have a closed mind.

     It’s time to open your minds and realize that animals aren’t THINGS, PROPERTY OR CHATTEL they are children.

     Enough said for today…stay tuned for more rantings.

The Meaning of Independence

July 5, 2009

 Yesterday we set off fireworks, had picnics and barbecues  all in celebration of our nation’s independence from Britain. However, I think Independence Day should mean more than us thumbing our noses at the British because we beat them back in 1776. Think for a second about what our forefathers were fighting for. They were sick of the intolerance of the British, and the discrimination of being treated as second class citizens. They came to America and bravely fought for a place where they could end all that.

You know what — we’ve become hypocrites!!!

When you think about it, don’t we do those same things right now? Aren’t we the ones who look down on people who may be ‘different’ from us? Whether it be race, religion, sexual orientation, family make up.

My husband and I have what I call an ‘alternative family’  where our children have 4 legs. To A LOT of people that is wrong and unhealthy. I’ve even been told that the “purpose” of marriage is to procreate! Can you believe that?

I joke and say that the ‘GLBT’ movement is my role model. Not that we want our cats to marry but we want our families to be accepted!

Whether a family has 2 Dads or 2 Moms, or the children are 3 cats — the families should all be treated the same! They are families! Whether or not the children are biological or adopted, there shouldn’t be any difference! Nor should there be any difference wether the children have 2 legs or 4 legs!Parents love their children. End of story.

I also believe that there are two kinds of women in the world, those who should have kids, and those who shouldn’t. But that will have to be the subject of another blog 🙂

Talk soon & remember to kiss an animal.

Amanda

My 4-legged children

June 23, 2009

Afternoon everyone!! I thought I’d talk today about my children since they will be an integral part of my blog. 

Our family is unconventional in that our ‘children’ have four legs – I call them quadra-peds. (don’t know if that is patented but if not ‘IT’S MY WORD’ ) When my husband Kevin and I got married in 1995 we were under the delusion like all couples raised Catholic –  marry and procreate. We said – yeah we’ll have kids eventually. I was starting law school and didn’t have the time. We adopted our first child Tigger a female short-hair tiger cat 2 years into our marriage. I still had one whole year to go. I think I told you that Tigger is 12 now. My last year of law school we decided to get Tigger a sibling because we were told that 2 cats are good because they can play with each other. Enter Calie, who is now 11. She is a Norwegian Forest Cat, calico coloring hence the name. She looks like a Maine Coon – she is a big fluff ball. We moved back to NY and I took the bar that summer (1998). At that point we were still on the fence about children and our official statement was ‘well we started with cats, will upgrade to dogs and then have kids’.

My joke was that I had ‘taken the batteries out of my maternal clock.’

After I passed the bar, then I had to find a job. It was with a firm we’ll call ABC for reasons that will become apparent. It was a small firm with three full named partners (A, B, and C) and a junior female partner I’ll call D.

Somewhere during the next 5 years while I worked my butt off trying to impress the ole’ boy mentality of the firm …maybe making partner one day; Kevin and I decided against the dog…hell we decided against the 2 legged kids also.

My career was very important to me, my husband had a great job (making more $$ than me and I’m the one with 3 degrees – oh well) and we had talked about one of us staying home with the kids. I was too close to partner and the older we got the more we got set in our ways. I have 4 nieces/nephews on my side and the mister has 4 on his. So anytime we had any maternal instinct we just spent some time with one or more of them and that cured us right away.

So we very gently broke the news to our parents that they would have ‘grand-cats’ not humans. One side accepted it but the other hasn’t. I won’t identify the sides. The have-nots are strict Catholic and believe that the only reason to get married is to procreate.

Wanting to expand our family (and defy parents) we added to our brood in October 2001. It was right after Sept 11th and we decided life was too short. Our youngest Riley (now 8) is a full blooded persian with the pushed in nose. He is a red smoke (red, beige and white) and a fluff ball.

Since that time, we have been teased, frowned upon and laughed at whenever we tell people that Riley slept on the toilet (closed cover) or Tigger chased a bird. When asked do you have children and how many, both mister and I say ‘we have 3: two girls and a boy’.

To us, I guess we feel exactly as any adoptive parent feels like. I couldn’t love my children more if they were my biological children.

To me, animal families do not have any rights at all. It reminds me of the way the GLBT movement started. Same sex partners have been discriminated against for years and still are. It is my hope that someday before I die, my children will get the respect they deserve.

Okay enough of my soapbox for today.  

Kris