Thursday, 22 August 2013

All is well again in the Engemoen household

It's been a while since I could write a blog post with nothing to complain about and no bad news to share. It's sort of refreshing.

So in a few days, The Summer Of Dean formally ceases. On Wednesday I start a new job, at least temporarily. Officially it's a 1-3 month assignment covering for someone who was in a pretty serious car accident; unofficially, they have no idea when/if she can come back, and how much she'll be able to work if she does. And even if she comes back healthy, they are likely to have a permanent position for me if they like me (and let's face it, they WILL :-) ). So after ten months of looking at job boards and finding nothing remotely close to my skill set (before my interview with these guys yesterday I had ONE interview for a suitable job in ten months, and I didn't get offered that job, which is good as I wouldn't have taken it anyway. Horrible company), the looking is over for the immediate future anyway. Can't really complain, it's been a pretty spectacular summer to have been off. In fact it's been SO good that I'm ready for fall. Cooler weather can come anytime, thank you very much.

On the cat front, no real update on Newman; he's still plugging along, seems to be doing very well. We are down to twice a week on his I/V treatments, and are trying to get down to once a week starting this week. He really hates the treatments now, I guess that's probably a sign that he is feeling so much stronger that he doesn't need them, but I am loathe to stop them altogether. We want him to be healthy for as long as possible. There is certainly no problem with his appetite; he's back to being the pig that he always was!!

Ashley came back from the groomers shaved and as sweet as you can imagine, for the most part.

We're hoping that drama is behind us. Don't get me wrong, we are a long way from "one big happy family", but the cats are at least tolerating each other again....and when Ashley swipes at them, it's a pretty half-hearted swipe rather than a full attack. I still think she'd be happiest in a one-cat home but she seems much more content now, so we are going to keep her and try to make it work for everyone. I think it will.

My wine blog has taken off a bit, each entry gets 25-40 views (one entry is up to 210 page views) so that's pretty exciting considering that I started it hoping that maybe 2 or 3 people would check it out from time to time. It's really just for me. Hoping that I can keep it up when I'm back at work; I suppose that will depend on the hours I'll be putting in. At this point, it doesn't look like it will be overwhelming.

My yoga studio has been running a challenge all summer; not one of those crazy "30 in 30" challenges that I couldn't possibly do, but a 12-week challenge with three levels (and prizes): Bronze (24 classes), Silver (36 classes) and Gold (48 classes). Early on I was going a lot and was easily on pace to reach Gold, but then the injuries started piling up and I had to back off a bit. Left knee, right elbow, and right shoulder; and if you've ever done any yoga, you'll know there aren't too many poses that don't involve at least one of those three things. Makes yoga tougher than it needs to be. Anyway, at first I pretty much kept going as much as I could, backing off on the most painful poses, but I found that was just making it worse so I've had to cut down on how often I go. Trying not to do as many back-to-back days as I was before. I'm already at 30 classes, and there are a few weeks left so I will have no problem getting to Silver, but Gold seems pretty unlikely. Oh well, I'm doing the best I can under the circumstances. Unless the shoulder (rotator cuff, maybe?) heals fully in the next few days, which seems unlikely given that it's been about 2 months with little change, I can't see getting to 18 more classes between now and the end of the challenge, but things could change.

No vacations planned until Xmas; Tracey and I are going to Vegas for New Year's which will be a lot of fun. Already have dinner reservations at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant for NYE. Going to be quite an experience, I imagine.

Anyway, that's it for now. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Cats suck

So I've mentioned, ad nauseum, Newman's issues. I've been expecting to have to write a sad blog entry detailing his death and the sadness we felt having to put him down.

But two days before he was due to be put to sleep, he made a miraculous recovery. Today, weeks later, he's doing great. We started giving him his I/V treatment twice a day, and we are now down to 3 times a week, and I think we'll go down to twice a week soon. He seems to be just about the same cat he was before he got sick. He's doing about as well as could possibly be expected, given the inevitable fact that his kidneys are still failing and will, at some point, fail completely and kill him. Every day we have with him is a bonus, and the days we are getting now, with him in such great spirits, truly seem like blessings. On that front, we are truly very lucky parents.

But what would a house of five cats be without problems???? Our newest girl, Ashley, who came to live with us about 8 months ago, is the newest one with issues.

Yeah that's her in the laundry basket.

Anyway, in the eight months she's been here, her relationship with the other cats has been tenuous, at best. She really doesn't seem to like any of them. Not to sound like a proud parent who thinks his kids can do no wrong, but these are some pretty sweet and unaggressive cats. If she can't get along with THESE cats, I'm not sure who she could get along with.

She also hates to be groomed; she won't let us get anywhere near her with the brush that we use to groom the others. Due to this, and partly our poor parenting, her fur has got matted to the point that Tracey calls her "homeless cat". It's really awful. So, last week we decided it was time to get a professional groomer to shave her, and hopefully we could start from scratch. On Wednesday I took her to the groomer, dropped her off and went on my way to do some shopping.

One hour later, the groomer called; Ashley had a "meltdown" (the groomer's words) and I needed to come pick her up. OK, so I showed up there expecting to see Ashley in some state of distress; but no, Ashley seemed perfectly fine. She licked my fingers and was apparently not stressed at all. The groomer, who seemed to be a very nice, respectful lady, had managed to shave one small strip of hair off Ashley's back before she gave up. So I took Ashley home, and called my vet to make arrangements to bring Ashley in, have her sedated, and shaved, while she slept. No big deal, except that it was going to cost me about $200 to get this done. Anyway, whatever, it needed to be done, so I booked the appointment for next Tuesday.

Shortly after I brought her home, Ashley went nuts. I mean nuts. Rolling around on the floor, seemingly trying to get to the area of her back that the groomer had managed to shave. I've never seen a cat react like that. Something about her had changed regarding the other cats too. She couldn't stand to be around them at all. We managed to scoop her up (without her killing us) and put her into one of the bedrooms away from all the cats for a little while, and that seemed to calm her down, slightly. After many hours, she calmed down completely and we let her out. I hopped into the shower, and when I got out, I heard Tracey screaming at the cats at the top of her lungs. It was a battle royale. All four of our existing cats were attacking Ashley. Sidra and Jackie were leading the charge, with Madeline and Newman hanging around, not really participating, but certainly involved. As Tracey managed to separate them, Sidra took a swipe at Ashley's face, cutting her across the nose, and then swiped at Tracey, cutting her on the ankle. Now, a cat swiping at someone is hardly newsworthy; but you'd have to know THIS cat. Sidra is possibly the least aggressive cat I have ever seen. Well, if not, maybe Jackie is. Or Maddie. Or Newman. These cats never attack ANYONE or ANYTHING; except for Ashley. Something about her drives them nuts, and vice versa. We used to have "tenuous tolerance", but now we had World War III.

So we had little choice but to completely sequester Ashley in one of the bedrooms, and we made the difficult choice to let her go. We talked to our vet, who had made the arrangements to bring her to us from her foster family, and asked if they could talk to the foster family about taking her back. The vet was off for a couple of days so we knew we'd have to keep all the cats apart, and safe, until this morning (Saturday) when they would get back to us.

With Ashley on her own, and no other cats around, she turned back into the sweetest cat you could imagine. In fact she kept me awake most of the night by kneading my chest and licking my face. All the stress that the other cats caused her had melted away and she was perfectly happy. Of course, it's hardly practical to keep her locked in a bedroom for a prolonged length of time, and we were convinced that giving her up was the right decision.

Last night (Friday), I decided to let her out of the bedroom and let her go sit outside on the patio, her favorite spot, for her last night with us. I figured I'd lock the door and keep the other cats away so that she could have a nice relaxing night on the patio. To my complete surprise, however, the other cats barely even noticed she was out there. There was a bit of initial hesitance, but after that, it was like the drama from the other night never happened.

This morning the vet called and offered to call the foster family and see if they would take her back. They were away on vacation, but their daughter was home and said she thought they would welcome Ashley back. So now we have that option; but now we really don't know what to do. Everything seems pretty much back to normal now. We don't want to give her up if it's not necessary; although we know the foster family would do their best to take care of her, they have another cat and NINE (yes NINE!!) beagle puppies, so her aversion to other animals would hardly be any better served there.

So as I write this, we are keeping her for a while. We are going to take her for her grooming appointment on Tuesday and see what happens. If she comes home from that appointment in meltdown mode, we'll have to keep her segregated again and decide where to go from there.

Cats suck.