Sunday, November 23, 2014

Memorial to a Best Friend


Sometimes you meet someone online who touches you in a special way. It's happened to me at various online venues. One friend who impressed me with his thoughtful posts made a special impression when he talked about his cat, Tribble, and shared pictures. Real men love cats and Frank is a real man whose best friend, Tribble, was generously shared with his friends. A long and loving relationship, they were the perfect example of The Human-Animal Bond. It truly hurt my heart when I found out that Tribble died. Frank posted a tribute to Tribble. I was moved to tears and asked his permission to share it here. I don't have Guest Bloggers so this is unusual. Frank shared some photos, as well. Here's Frank Incremona's Memorial to his beloved best friend, Tribble.

Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend

A Tribute to my cat, Tribble

When I met Tribble for the first time, he was a tiny fluff of hair… He was four months old, only weighed four pounds, and had a terrible case of ringworm. He was also malnourished and had vitamin deficiencies.

They put him down on the ground, at my request, but told me he wouldn’t come running to me. He did just did the opposite. He ran over, ran around me then climbed up onto my lap and fell asleep. All I said was, “He’s coming home with me.” They couldn’t believe what they saw, stating that it’s never happened before.

I brought him home then drove off to Petsmart to get the necessary accouterments… Water Dish, Food Bowl, Kibble Dish, Food (both wet and dry), litter box a few toys and a comfy bed to sleep in.

When I fed him the first of many cans of kitten food, he devoured the dish as if he’d not eaten in weeks… once the wet food was gone he found his kibble dish and proceeded to empty about half of it. He looked like a little Buddha, his tummy distended from the amazing amount of food he’d ingested. All that done, he climbed up my pant leg, then implanted himself on my lap for a nap. When he curled up you couldn’t tell where he started or ended. He was just a ball of hair… a little Tribble. That was October 8, 1995.

The vet checkup the next day was very eventful. My vet did the perfunctory blood panels, and examination… but there was one thing that he said looked odd…Tribble had a sticky discharge all over his ears and head. He came back in to the room with a UV Light. Plugged in the light then shined on Tribble’s fur. He lit up like a bouquet of fiber optics. It was so bad that he told me that, “to treat this systematically, he will most likely die.”  The next thing I knew, I was taking him home with a pre-surgical shampoo with instructions to bathe him every other day until the doctor said to stop. It took over 3 months to eradicate the ringworm. And Tribble was very cooperative about getting bathed. He seemed to enjoy it; probably because he felt so good after he was dry and not looking like a drowned rat.

Tribble had the run of the house, and at night he would make me carry him to bed to rest. He always chose a spot by my arm so it could be used as a pillow. I didn’t mind. At least he didn’t snore.

The following June I had accepted a position with a company in Tennessee. Everything was packed and on a truck except for some essentials; clothes, toiletries, litter box, food and food dishes, and everything else that Tribble needed.  We made the 14 hour trip, only stopping for gas, toilet stops, food and giving Tribble some treats for being so cooperative on the long trip. He slept on my lap for the entire journey.

My job in Tennessee had me doing a lot of travelling. And to be sure Tribble was well cared for while I was away, my vet recommended a lovely woman to pet sit. Since her husband had passed, Linda was using her time caring for animals. And Tribble loved her. After the first time returning from a trip, Tribble met me at the front door. Tail wagging, meowing like crazy and turning in circles!

As soon as I was in the house, and the door was closed, he ran to the bathtub then jumped in. He was running around in circles then flipped himself over so his belly was exposed. I started giving him belly scratches and he wriggled around in the tub. I looked at him and said, “you’re being silly!” After that first time, Tribble did this for me every time I returned from a trip. He’d just in the tub and get excited and I would say, “Where’s my silly kitty?” and he would flip over on his back to get scratches. As he got older and it because tougher for him to jump he stopped doing it.

As a matter of fact, Tribble traveled quite frequently with me; by car, by train, by ferry and aircraft. Any time I found myself flying back home for business Tribble always came with to visit his Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop. They loved seeing him – more than me, I’m afraid.

A few years later we moved back to PA because my dad was ill, and after he passed I accepted a job with a company in Georgia. Once again, we moved and this time into our own house! Tribble was a little apprehensive of the new surroundings, at first. But when a Red Tail Hawk landed on our deck, he sat poised for almost 30 minutes watching this great bird resting on the railing. He came back at least once per day, maybe looking for a resting spot, or more likely trying to figure out how to get the cat on the other side of the window!

Our home in Georgia had a drive under garage. As soon as the garage door started to rise he would run from the bedroom (where he usually napped) to the interior house entrance in the garage. As soon as I closed the car door I could hear him meowing, wanting me to open the door. I had a floor mat at the base of the stairs and once inside I would say, “Okay, clean your feet then we can go upstairs.” He would knead on the mat, simulating what I did with my feet, then ran up the stairs. He couldn’t wait to jump in the tub and play silly kitty with me.

A few years later we found ourselves up north, working from home and trying to figure out what we would do next. It was during this time that Mom-Mom became a frequent babysitter when I had to go out of town on business. That’s when I found out that Tribble loved to eat whatever happened to fall on the ground.. A palm leaf and twisty tie were the most notable items. The palm leaf made it to his colon… and required an enema to extract it from his rectum. The vet was impressed that he was able to pass it and placed it in a plastic bag to show me what was backing up Tribble. The nursing staff was laughing hysterically! Tribble was not amused.

A couple of years later and Tribble was experiencing the same symptoms as the palm leaf so I brought him to the vet expecting that another enema was in order. Only this time, they told me he required surgery to get it out.  The twisty tie was stuck in his stomach and irritating the lining to the point where nothing could get through. A couple of days and $1300 later, and he was back to his old self.

Tribble continued to have digestive problems that were corrected by only supplying him with small amounts of food over the course of the day; breakfast, lunch, dinner and an overnight snack of about 1.5 ounces of wet food with a constant supply of kibble. We were experiencing a pleasant time no longer worried about vomiting or diarrhea.

In 2007 I purchased a home in the Pocono Mountains. It sat on two acres and there was wildlife everywhere! It was great because there were plenty of windows for Tribble to have naps and there was plenty of deer that came to visit. He loved mornings because we would have a herd of deer in our backyard, some coming up on the back deck looking for some breakfast treats. In the fall I would give them apples and in the dead of winter I would place bales of alfalfa hay in the yard so they would have something to eat. It also kept them off the state game lands, too!

One afternoon I came downstairs to see Tribble napping in his beanbag chair, and a little field mouse, fast asleep under his front legs. He wasn’t what you call, a mouser! When he wasn’t on the beanbag chair he was on his bed in my office, napping while I worked.

Then in 2009 Tribble developed a sort of temporary paralysis of his back legs. The  vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong. His x-ray showed no break or dislocations. Yet he couldn’t seem to use his back legs. The vet sent us home with an antibiotics and prednisone to try and correct the problem.

I gave him the prednisone the slept on the floor next to him so I could assist with litter box use or to allow him to eat and drink as he wanted. About 2:30 a.m. I woke to find him missing from his bed. I turned on the lights to find him at the other end of the room. I called his name and he slowly, walked over to me! I continued the prednisone as prescribed and he made a full recovery. A little over a year later, he experienced the same situation. And once again, a course of prednisone did the trick. Crisis averted!

Over the last four years we have had an uneventful time. Tribble had his daily routine; wake me up early; have breakfast; a quick brush then a nap. He enjoyed his food, played with his toys and looked forward to bedtime when he took over most of the bed. His annual checkups were all good, and the vet was amazed as to his resiliency. His blood panels were all excellent!

Yes, Tribble liked to sleep on Frank's legs!

About two months ago, age finally caught up to my Tribble. His gait was not normal; walking seemed to be tedious and jumping up or down from the loveseat (his personal domain) was now an almost impossibility. He would walk over to the loveseat, sit down then wait for someone to pick him up then place him on the seat. This was followed by a brushing and a long nap.

About two months ago I noticed his condition worsening. His breathing was labored, his interest in eating had gone down some, be he always seemed to eat and drink, and pee and poop. He was now having little “accidents” around the house. But it was unclear if he was having problems holding his pee, or if he simply didn’t realize that he needed to pee and it just releaed.

His respiration was too high and then he started to exhibit sounds you get when there’s fluid developing in your lungs. One night he woke me from a somewhat restful sleep and simultaneously dry heaved and peed. I cleaned him up then got him back to sleep… and he seemed to be okay for the rest of the night, although his breathing wasn’t normal. The next day, Tribble’s interest in food declined immensely. I am at a point where I know I need to put him down so he doesn’t suffer, yet I find myself second guessing the timing. My vet wasn’t in today so I chose to wait for tomorrow. When tomorrow comes I will take him, or I will choose to spend a few more days with him before I have to let him go. I am struggling with this decision, partly for Tribble; if he has more time he should have it here, with me. Partly for me; this little fur ball has been my constant companion for the last 19 years, and he ahs become more than a pet; more than a possession. He’s become my child, and he’s shown me unconditional love, through good and bad times.

Before I knew I was dealing with cancer, Tribble knew I was ill and would not leave my side. After both of my surgeries he stayed with me when I took naps during recovery only leaving momentarily for a food and water break or to use his litter box. I can honestly say that I am a better man for having spent the last 19 years with my fuzzy son. As a result, I just can’t make this decision for him without giving him every chance possible for more time on earth. Even though I know I will see him one day, at the bridge. No words that I write can put an exclamation point on this precious, little life that has brought me so much joy. To look in the window to see him meowing at me, happy that I have returned home is something that is hard to describe. I was his whole world, and somehow I have to be the one to end it for him. And I’m not sure that I am strong enough to do it.

The day has finally come for me to say goodbye to my friend, Tribble. I don’t think that I have ever experienced more sadness in my life. I called the vet this morning and they asked if I wanted to do it this morning, or in the afternoon. I told them that there was no good time to get this done, so I decided that we needed one more lunch, some treats and some extra brushing before saying goodbye. What little breakfast he ate was Italian Tuna in Olive Oil, one of his favorites… Lunch will probably be some low sodium ham (another favorite) and quite possibly some ice cream.

Then I will lay low so I can grieve for him…maybe take a bike ride, albeit a cold bike ride to clear my head then solitude for at least a few days.

If you have a cat, dog, rabbit, ferret, or any other animal in your home give them a hug and kiss.  Spend some extra time with them… time is something that we get so little of with our fur kids. And before we know it, they are gone…

All pictures courtesy of
Frank Incremona

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Grumpy Cat and The WWE

Just when I think I've heard it all, something comes along to make me say: Really?!

Admittedly, I'm not a wrestling fan although millions are but, different strokes, etc.  Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail informing me that Grumpy Cat was going to be on a WWE program. Really. I nearly fell off my chair. However, WWE has 420 million media followers. We should all be so lucky!

Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tarder Sauce, is an Arizona resident who has hit the big time with her own movie, products, memes and a fan following that any A List Celebrity would envy. Tarder Sauce turned two years old last April and her facial expression is supposed to be the result of Dwarfism. Her brother is also a dwarf although they were not bred to be dwarfs, it's the result of a genetic mutation.

Friskies has flown her to South by Southwest in Austin, complete with chauffeur upon arrival and all the Friskies food her heart desired. She has also appeared on their YouTube series as well as on major network TV shows and in major publications. The public can't seem to get enough of this kitty.

Grumpy Cat is really a happy cat despite her expression. So what's the tie-in with WWE?

This coming Monday, November 17th, Grumpy Cat will appear on WWE's Monday Night Raw.  In her special guest appearance, the WWE Superstars along with the Divas will try to make Grumpy Cat smile during the program. 

If anyone is taking bets, I'm betting on Grumpy Cat. The chances of making her smile are  Three:





Her expression is a result of her dwarfism.  But it certainly should be fun to see how those big wrestlers react to little Tarder Sauce.  You can see for yourself when the show airs on the USA Network.

For more information:

Friday, October 31, 2014


The American Association of Feline Practitioners has Halloween tips for every cat owner. They spent the day running a contest for a cat to go on their info graphic.  The Winner, seen below, is Dusty, dressed up as The Cat in The Hat.  Before dark falls and the Trick or Treating begins, this info graphic is a nice supplement to my cat & dog Halloween Safety Post earlier this week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Cat Day

Darlene & The Amazing Aimee
Today is National Cat Day. I've been thinking about it. National Cat Day. A day devoted to felines wherever they may be. Every one of them is a loving, sweet, often misunderstood living, breathing, sentient being.

If you have a cat or two or more, you know what wonderful companions they are, how loving and sweet. They have been plagued by Old Wives' Tales that are totally inaccurate but so widely adopted without thinking that it boggles the mind. 

Photo Courtesy of Louise Holton

Cats aren't independent. They are independent hunters, not independent creatures.  They crave attention which is why they're on top of your newspaper or book when you're reading, your keyboard at the computer, why they sit close or on top of you purring. They love to play with you and some will play fetch with the enthusiasm of a Retriever. But they are not dogs. They like to make the first approach. If a cat comes to you of his own volition, you are honored.

A black cat is decidedly not bad luck! In fact, in many places, including the U.K., they are considered good luck! They are merely black in color and sweet in nature. However, the idiocy attached to them leaves them vulnerable to people who will use them in unsavory practices, hence they are not adopted out around Halloween. Sadly, because of their color, many people won't adopt them at all! They are missing out on a wonderful companion and because of their bigotry, these beautiful, sweet cats are often killed in shelters. I don't pussyfoot around - any pun intended - by using the word euthanasia.  They are dead by someone's hand in a shelter.

Photo Courtesy of Sue Janson
Cats do not steal a baby's breath. In fact, children who grow up with pets are less likely to be allergic to them. The only thing I wouldn't allow is for the cat to sleep on an infant's chest just because of the weight, however, many cats will happily sleep at the foot of the crib or on the floor near the crib. The family baby is their baby, too. Children who are raised with pets and taught to be gentle with them grow up to be more responsible, caring people.

The cats that run loose outside have often been thrown out by people who think they're disposable. They are not. They are in danger from being hit or killed by cars, attacked by other animals, or they starve to death. 

Feral cats, those who have not been owned or socialized, deserve love, too, in the form of shelter, food water, and a Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) program that allows them to live out their lives in relative peace and not reproduce more. If you see more in a colony it is usually because some irresponsible "owner" has thrown the cat away and chosen to dump their pet into a feral colony for which he is completely unprepared to live or even survive.

Photo Courtesy of Louise Holton

Cats often do therapy work in hospitals and nursing homes. That's not just a job for dogs!  Some are known to live with autistic children, providing them that "something extra" that they seem to need.

If you're a cat owner, celebrate your cat not just today but every day. If you can, please donate to your local grassroots rescue group. They will be happy to have whatever you can give, whether it's money, food, or even paper towels.

Cats give us unconditional love, the very least we can do is keep them safe from harm, feed them, give them fresh water each day, play with them, love them and cherish them.

Photo Courtesy of Claire Clayton

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween & Your Pets Plus the Chuckit Toy Winner!


Photo by Claire Clayton 

With Halloween only a few days away it's time to give some extra thought to your dogs and cats. While children find this holiday fun and many adults enjoy it, most dogs and cats are less than thrilled.

Some dogs enjoy getting dressed up and going out with the kids. If you have one of those dogs, be sure the dog's costume allows him to see and breath and allows his legs to move easily. 

Photo by Jim Stagg

If your dog is shy, not good around loud noises (like kids screaming), costumes, lots of people milling about, then do your dog a favor and don't make him participate in Halloween activities.

Your dog will be happier and safer indoors, in a room of his own with the door closed, toys to play with, a comfy place to nap if he can do that with the doorbell ringing and children shouting. Keep a radio on in the room. He should have a dish of water and, perhaps a puzzle toy with treats inside.

Your kitty, too, will be much happier and safer in a room of her own with a litterbox just in case, water and food, scratching post (or horizontal cardboard scratcher), a safe place to nap even if it's just a cardboard box with a towel on the bottom for an impromptu nap. Kitty, too, will appreciate a radio.

Cat with a Wig - Not a good idea to
cover the cat's ears!
Don't allow your cat or dog to have any of the candy that you're giving out or that your kids bring home. It's not good for them and you don't want to have to make a trip to the veterinarian! 

If you're having a party in your home, a separate room of their own is going to be the safest place under those circumstances, too. Being underfoot, or being fed something they shouldn't eat (or drink!) but a guest who thinks it's "funny," is not going to make you or your companion happy.

Having your companions closed off in another room will also save you the worry of your dog or cat escaping through the door and getting lost, or possibly hit by a car. Safety is an important issue.

Photo by Linda Aronson
Have fun on Halloween but don't let it be a disaster for your pet.

Now for the moment you've been waiting for - the winner of last week's giveaway - a Chuckit LIGHTPLAY Toy by Petmate Products that will provide lots of fun for our winner and their dog.  

And the Winner is:


Please send me your name and mailing address via my website: so I can pass it along and the toy will be on its way to you!

Thank you to everyone who entered.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: The Chuckit LIGHTPLAY Toy & Giveaway

Photo of Fuzzy by Gary Rohde

When it comes to testing toys, I have an assortment of volunteers. One of the most avid toy testers is Fuzzy who has owned Gary Rohde in Southern California ever since Gary rescued him from a shelter. A rather insecure, anxious dog who seemed to come not with baggage but a full set of luggage, he has flourished under Gary's loving care, great socialization and gentle training. 

Photo by Gary Rohde

Fuzzy has turned into a connoisseur of dog toys. Give him one and he'll be happy to play until he has either destroyed the toy or finally grows tired, whichever comes first.  When I was offered an opportunity to test Chuckit, a LIGHTPLAY toy by Petmate, Fuzzy was a pretty obvious choice. 

LIGHTPLAY Toys aglow!

A bonus of this group of new toys is that it can be seen when it's starting to get dark and great indoors to keep you from falling over the toy in the middle of the night if it's still charged. The Max Glow rubber charges under a bright light - including light from a cell phone in less than 10 minutes and the glow lasts for up to 30 minutes of nighttime play.

Lucas & Fuzzy Photo by Gary Rohde

I asked that one of the toys be shipped directly to Gary and Fuzzy.  It arrived quickly and Fuzzy immediately bonded with the box - after all, it was for him, contents and all.  

Gary unpacked the toy and Fuzzy loved it, playing with it on the sofa in their apartment. Then off they went for the real test - outdoors on one of their multiple daily walks.

Photo by Gary Rohde
Gary is disabled but even he could play with the toy, throwing it for Fuzzy in the safety of a friend's yard. Then he enlisted one of Fuzzy's friends, a young man named Luke and while Gary shot still pictures and video, they played together with the joy kids and dogs seem to naturally share.

Fuzzy gives this toy 4 paws up!  Gary and Luke seem to concur. The fact that Fuzzy hasn't been able to destroy it is another major plus since he's hard on toys.  Gary enthused that, "Fuzzy loves it!"

As you can see in the pictures (and the video below), Chuckit is a big hit with Fuzzy, Gary and Luke. 

If you want to learn more, you can go to Petmate's website:

Video of Fuzzy & Luke by Gary Rohde

If you want a LIGHTPLAY toy for your special canine friend, please comment on this post. A winner in the U.S. will be chosen at random from all entries.  Check back on Monday when I'll announce the lucky winner!

NOTE:  I was not paid for this review. The toy was sent to Gary Rohde so he and his dog, Fuzzy, could test it.  No money changed hands. This review is based on Gary's experiences with the toy, his dog and their young friend, Luke.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: War Dogs by Rebecca Frankel

Those of us who know and love dogs are only too familiar with what dogs do for humans. They are more than companions; they help lower our blood pressure, assist the blind and disabled, work with the Police and with people with emotional issues. And then there are the dogs who go to war, military in every way.

Rebecca Frankel, Senior Editor, Special Projects at Foreign Policy has been writing a weekly column, appearing each Friday, called War Dog of The Week, which has led to her just-released book, War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love

Author Rebecca Frankel

It's not often that we see this sort of look at at these brave dogs from the mascots of the Civil War to Military Dogs on patrol from Vietnam to Iraq, as real members of the military. Only these dogs are not volunteers. Their lives are on the line just as much as any other member of the armed forces and many have lost their lives, others have been left behind like old, discarded military equipment instead of the living, breathing sentient beings that they are, forming tight bonds with their human partner and giving their all under orders.

These dogs have traditionally been trained using aversive methods which, of course, does not please me. That aside (and for me it's a huge effort to put that aside), these intelligent living, breathing sentient beings use all of their senses, bravery and intelligence, which is extraordinary. 

Combat Tracker Dog Lex - who loves
attention - enjoys some free time with
his handler, Marine Lance Corporal,
John Peeler. Photo by Rebecca Frankel
Within the pages of War Dogs you'll meet these courageous dogs and their handlers who form a working team with an extraordinary bond. Frankel brings them to us, chronicling their careers as only a savvy reporter on the ground can do.  It's impossible to single out just one story for attention because each is unique and every reader will find favorites among these brave warriors who, today, are even parachuting over targets with their partner, wearing special equipment. We got a hint of this when the story came out about Osama bin Laden's capture with a specially trained military dog an important member of the team.

While definitely non-fiction, it occasionally reads like fiction. You are not likely to forget the dogs and their partners who make up this military book.

Photographs show these special dogs throughout the years.

You won't regret the time spent with War Dogs which was released on October 14th. 

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Fehringer
guides  MWD (Military Working Dog)
Suk, across the obedience course at Cannon
Air Force Base, New Mexico on August 15, 2012.
Photo by Airman First Class Xavier Lockley

Published by Palgrave Macmillan, War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love is 242 pages, List price is $26.00 It is available wherever books are sold.  Here's a link for easy online purchase:   

Note: I was not compensated financially for this review.  I received only a bound galley of the book to read in oder to review it.