Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pet Tales; the Untold Story

Delilah: A Known Killer

Managing a makeshift homeless shelter for pets is a challenge. We have nine dogs and one cat. I'm going to write all of their names; Miss Nellie, Benicio del Toro, Delilah, Jessie James, Michelle, Fern, Pepper, Charlotte, and the young Mr. D'Arcy. Miss Junie is the much put-upon cat. Three dogs have health problems of some sort, Miss Nellie, Pepper and Charlotte.

Michelle loves me the most of all. She follows me with her eyes, body and heart.

Miss Nellie had a penchant for escaping under the fence. Though it was repaired, she continued to push herself under. She damaged her back and developed a neck tremor before we discovered that she was still attempting to escape. We took care of her in the house in order to keep her still until she healed. Then she tried to escape again and 'broke her back'. Now she walks sideways, falls down, gets up like a drunken bee filled with honey, and walks a bit further, tail wagging. It's as if she doesn't realize she is injured.

Pepper has a skin condition and the personality of a beaten homeless cunning wild dog. Pepper Pot runs away when you reach for her but comes up close with sad yearning eyes when you are petting another. She will let you pet her when everyone else is getting love. She has a skin condition from allergies, I think. Her hair grows a bit back then falls out some more. So far her skin does not respond to treatment.

Charlotte has the most problems. She was born with beautiful rust and white fur and then got an attack of mange (the kind street dogs are born with) and I started her on treatment. I learned how to give injections, bathed her with a strong poison and then she started to recover. She got another secondary infection and I put her on antibiotics. She recovered a bit and then got a stomach illness and (some other discusting problems) which I treated. She has nearly died four times.

We call her "Poor Charlotte" from the movie version of "A Room with a View," EM Forester. Right now her hair is growing back and she looks at me shyly as if to acknowledge all the trouble we both have gone through. She tilts her head to the side and down and timidly hopes I will pet her (but not too much because it hurts). Taking care of 'street animals' is extremely difficult and often heart breaking. Delilah adapted to street life by learning to kill live animals. If a cat comes into the fenced in yard-she will try to kill it. She has taught Pepper and Jessie to join her. We're taking her in to be 'fixed' this week. I hope she calms down.

We have a large space for all of the dogs and they have also helped us. One time a person broke in the yard by taking apart the fence and road a scooter around back to the side entrance. It's quite isolated. I imagine that as he was driving around to the back of the house, the dogs woke up from their afternoon nap. They must have chased him; he ran into the white wall where tire marks still remain, and escaped out of the yard. When we came home, the top part of the fence was dangling but the bottom was secure. After a bit of investigation, we realized what had happened and understood that the fence was put together upside down so that it could be opened even when it was locked and chained. Probably, the house was 'cased' for a while but they didn't notice the dogs. What a surprise!
All of the dogs know how to" behave." I continue to teach them to sit, lift up on their back legs and they understand hand gestures. They need worked with or else they will revert to extremely 'wild' behavior and we will all get into trouble. If I hadn't been raised around animals (4H and all that) I would have had a real problem on my hands. They have gone through many naughty stages: from digging holes in the yard, eating socks and underwear from the clothes line to chasing the lawnmower.

Recently, I discovered that dogs can get addicted to gasoline. They chewed the tube that runs out of the gas tank on our second car and were sipping, licking and finally drinking gas. I was home alone one night, when I smelled a strong 'dangerous' smell. Was it lighter fluid, or poison? I emptied out all of the cupboards in the kitchen but couldn't find anything. The smell was strongest by the kitchen window and it was open. I went outside and thought maybe someone is painting and the smell is paint thinner. I found the dogs acting strange and a little crazed. When I looked for the rest of them- they were fighting to get under the car.

Then I realized that the smell was gasoline. I got the hose and sprayed forcefully under the car, finally they moved out and away from the car. I rinsed the driveway and contained the gas with a metal pan. It was held in place by being pressed up next to the gas tank. Later, the dogs kept returning to the scene. Elizabeth must have been successful in drinking the most gas before I discovered the problem. She died.

I've never heard of it before but now I know that dogs do get addicted to gasoline. When my husband W started up the car recently, some fluid came out and the dogs were after it again. Strange. He was able to repair the tube with a material made to harden against metal. I hope it holds! (He’s teaching a night class this month.)

This year we had three cats die from leukemia, combined with old age, and finished off by dog terrorization. But I'm mixing the tales (tails!) together-the California cats, Tierra and Playful were 14 and 15 years old. Both contracted leukemia from our Mione cat- a beautiful black intelligent cat who strolled around the house like a demanding toddler who constantly raised his voice for attention. "I want that! Let me sit there! Where's my snack!?" He died when he was 4 and we all suffered over that one. The disease process was-first occasional 'colds' fever and sometimes a hematoma (blood clot bubble) because the immune system starts to fail. Then they' recover' with antibiotics until the next bout of infection. They eventually lose a lot of weight and give up eating and drinking. I had to use a dropper for Playful but he just couldn't make it. He was the largest black and white cat with a generous trusting personality. He died first. Then Tierra got so confused. She started wandering toward the dogs. She was the oldest and 'wildest' cat; she could balance on a thin fence with all four paws. She was loyal to me but clearly toward the end, it was her time. For most of her life her fur was like the earth of New Mexico or Scottsdale, Arizona; so rich and multi-toned, accented by an earthy red shade. We found her on the driveway. Licked clean. The dogs had that guilty," I'm sorry don't be mad at me look." They didn't tear her up but I'm pretty sure that they killed her and also Mione. (Since then the
dogs have killed two cats who wandered into our yard.) It's shocking but you start to realize how a life of survival can make a dog give in to instinct, especially when there is no one around to give them food. That was a stressful time.

Junie is confident and empowered

Now Junie is our last remaining cat; she is 10 years old and we have to watch her carefully. Junie is a peach-toned, powder-soft bossy kitty. She also was exposed to the cat virus but I hope she can survive for many more years.

The young Mr. D'Arcy

under an arbol de Naranjas

These are the animals that we share our lives with; today, the young Mr. D'Arcy pushes his way into the house and makes a run for the cat food. When stopped, he goes to the garbage bag. “No D'Arcy,” we yell . He settles for the bowl of puppy food all the while keeping his attention on the dinner table hoping that perhaps some food scraps will fall to the floor and he will be in the right place at the right time. ♥


  1. Wow Cynthia! I will never complain about 1 puppy and 2 cats again.

    What a huge heart you must have!


  2. Wow! some adventures in pet keeping.
    Sounds pretty challenging. You are very kind to take on animals with health problems
    I never heard of dogs drinking gasoline.
    I thought it might kill them straight away?
    our big excitement is that we adopted a puppy TODAY!
    he is currently sleeping on the sofa with my husband. He is a very mixed character spaniel/hound/beagle
    I think interaction with animals is just right for whatever ails us!
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    lots of lve

  3. I must be honest and say that I skipped a lot of your post because I had the feeling it was going to make me very upset. We're a very doggy household here and animal cruelty and neglect of any kind can haunt me for a long time.

    It is lovely you have opened your heart and your home to all these poor creatures.


  4. Wow Cynthia-you have your hands full. It's apparent you have an incredibly huge heart. I hope your kitty escapes the virus too. Thanks for sharing this today.

  5. I am not surprised that you have so many pets,
    I would have a managerie here if hubby would let me! I lost some pets once due to a neighbor pouring antifreeze on meat to kill the animals in the neighborhood and he was successful. I think all total about 20.He got away with it too! I did not know they would be drawn to gasoline though.
    Plese come to my blog and find the ghost in the painting? I don't think anyone can see it!

  6. I was happy, then sad, then worried, and finally exhausted!
    Here's hoping the dogs don't get into any more addictive substances. Maybe the occasional, medicinal, alcoholic beverage might be JUST what Dr Natalie orders for the humans ~ to aid in the prevention of insanity. Love to youxx♥

  7. That's a lot of responsiblity at that zoo! How do you keep it all straight? Unfortunately all those animals would make me sneeze and itch, but I'd take a few if I could.

  8. I've missed you! How do you ever find the time to blog? You have the patience of a saint and they are lucky to have you. I'm so sorry to hear about Elizabeth and the gasoline. My god, I never heard of that. I am quite content, at the moment, with my Squirrel who dines on my terrace twice a day, and my two mourning doves. Although I may be getting a bit too attached - I find myself thinking about that squirrel when I'm out and worrying about him when it rains! He's nicer than most of the people I know. Ha!

  9. Cynthia..You are a Florence Nightengale! I am impressed. I say a brother and sister pair of pups through the fence escape technique, ear infections, allergies and once refusal to eat when I had to leave town a few days. I have decided I am far to influenced by animal antics and pain to have any more at this point in time. I admire your determingation

  10. Nine! Whew! And I thought we had a housefull when we had two big labs. You have a tender heart for taking care of these dear creatures.

    Love the name "Poor Charlotte" from A Room with a View!

  11. Dear Cynthia, oh my gosh! I want to say what all the lovely friends here have said, you are amazing, how do you find the time?, you have a huge heart, i wish we had room, and oh I hope those dogs of yours stay out of trouble and your cat, no virus! give your self a big hug ok! you are sooo special.
    love ♥ lori

  12. These animals are lucky to have found you!

  13. Michelle, one puppy can be a handful! D'Arcy keeps us chasing after him...he gets into everything. And I bet your cats are challenged. My Junie is so annoyed that she urinated on my foot, leg and pillow this morning when I was meditating! I screamed in much for the vibe!<3

    Elizabeth, enjoy your new puppy!!! You are in for an adventure. Maybe you will take some photos of your cutie-pie! <3

    French Fancy,I hope you braved another reading. It's not about animal cruelity...just my life. It's wonderful that you care so much. <3

    Rudee,yes, I hope she is fine. She is one assertive female feline (read above!), she doesn't like to share with D'Arcy at all. Even the space at my feet. <3

    Carol,I think people who do such horrible acts are criminals. Some animals are highly evolved and in-tune with people. The loss of an animal can be so impacting, it can change the course of your life. Do you know that the man who killed my mom also would shot at dogs, chickens and goats? What a shockingly cruel act...but not completely rare. I have heard of people giving rat poison to animals here in Puerto Rico. It also is laced in food. Btw I couldn't see the ghost! :-( I tried. Where is the red hair? <3

    Linda, hi sweet appreciative friend! I know animals can circumscribe our freedom with their manipulations. Sometimes they get convinced that they are human...they also convince me! I think it's a good way to practice nonattachment combined with unconditional love. Practice is not necessarily succeeding. <3

    Natalie, your just so adorable to care for my animal struggles the way you do! Everyone is fine, I gave Charlotte and Pepper another treatment (yesterday) and everyone also got a monthly dose of Frontline! Delilah got her operation and she won't have anymore puppies. (Now Jessie needs his appointment and then D'Arcy!!) There's so much involved, I just think about a bit at a time. I'm sure you have plenty of your own similar challenges...we just stay in the flow... <3

    JBA, Life with twins is pretty challenging especially when you try to keep your career on the go.<3

    Catherine, two doves and a squirrel! What a delight! You should write about them in a kind of children's know like B. Potter? (I so admire her.) Thanks for the visit! xx <3

    Willow,yes, Poor Charlotte fits her too. She is a not trouble yourself kind of dog who actually needs/wants you to take a lot of trouble! <3

    Lori Ann,I appreciate the hug!! My animal effort just grew by itself...and I followed. A bit like any service effort. You also have children and many tasks...we just divide our time in the ways we need/want to. xx <3

    Charmaine, thank you for your comment and reading about my little life! <3

  14. are a wonderful lady! What a great heart you have. :)

  15. Gosh that's a heap of animals to contend with - how lucky they all are/were to be in your compassionate care. Although I knew antifreeze was a huge problem for animals I was unaware gasoline was too. Thanks for that info.

  16. Hi Paris, thanks for reading and for bringing your charming presence here to read. <3

    Janice, I didn't know about antifreeze but I assumed that any car fluid would be a problem after the gasoline incident. All is calm on the canine front is today except Charlotte has another problem with her ears. I think she is scratching too I will need to get something for the inner ear...probably mites! :-( Thanks for your visit! <3

  17. Hello my very takented Cynthia:) Please come to my site for an award!

  18. gr8 2 read the post friend..felt really nice to c good people like u still exist on this universe.. those who care 4 other lives..i remember i wrote a report in a newspaper two decades ago about a woman in scotland who used to help injured donkeys on the's real noble keep up yr good work.and remember that our wishes r with u..

  19. Ahhhh! You have just hit on one of my biggest fears.. that people are casing my house. I am a big door locker and freak out when I'm home alone. I was attacked about a year ago and will never be the same... God. I can't believe that they put the fence in upside down... That is sooo scary! What great guard dogs you have! I give them all high paws!

  20. Ramesh, thank you friend. I appreciate others, too, who make an effort to ease suffering in this life. I think we are given a desire to help and responding comes easily. <3

    Marie Isabelle,So sorry to hear about what happened to you. I worry about my loved ones for the same reason. I wish we lived in a world where we could walk without fear- out in the open -and feel safe. May you always be protected and surrounded in love. Hi paws to you too! <3

    Yoli,cuuute!! Love you too! Thanks for coming over and reading. I know you love animals. xx <3

  21. You shall have many stars in your crown. Rescuing animals is truly blessed work. I am so grateful to the people who found Edward and Apple in bad situations and took them in so I could find them both. Blessings on you!!

  22. Thank you Pamela Terry and Edward. I think that those people such as yourself who embrace and include animals in their lives are truely remarkable and blessed. You make a family place in your heart and continue to love the "little critters" through out their entire lives. <3

  23. Wow, what a huge heart you have in helping these sweet, innocent animals. It is heartbreaking to hear what some have gone through and continue to deal with. Blessings to you and the animals. Thank you for stopping by my blogsite recently, hope you will come back to visit.

  24. You are really wonderful to give such care and love to those sweet animals in need! They are very lucky to have been found by you Cynthia, and I'm sure they give you much love back.

  25. oh, Cynthia, he's so big and cute I want to meet him, I have to walk Tina now, she loves it here, she's so cute

  26. Cynthia you can write a novel in the point of view of Delilah, have you seen the movie Marley and me, I'm dying to see it, I've heard it's excellent. You have so much material for a great novel about animals. Just relaxing and enjoying my time over here, it's great to be on vacation,
    blessings and Happy Easter,

  27. Our dog Joe (Jose) was second generation PR street dog (Borinquen Terrier :)and we adopted him from an American couple who lived near Mayaquez. They had rescued Joe's parents. Joe always retained his street dog ways :) ie trying to escape the premises on a fairly regular basis to go wandering around. We brought him back to Denver, and then to Hawaii where he retired....He died at age 13 and was one of the nicest dogs I've ever known. We now have Cody (pound pup) and Bean-Elizabeth (who was dropped off by some a**hole family at a garage sale!) My daughter rescued her, and poor little thing was dishevelled and had been abused. She is a totally different little girl now....but does have some food issues..I'm sure related to former abuse.

  28. oh cynthia, this is all so heartbreaking, you must have a heart the size of the moon!! so many sad stories and death and killing, I could only imagine why and from where they had originally come from to have such a lust for blood! And the gasoline?? I had no idea and have had dogs forever~now I know why our dog is always trying to sneak under the pickup... I thought it was to scratch her back on the axle but maybe not?! I don't know but will watch more closely from now on...

    thank you for sharing your inspiring life with the animals, you have such a warmth about you and now I see where some of it goes(and comes from), these loving living beings, forgotten and forlorn until they met lucky they have you.......may you be blessed for what you do with these innocent creatures ~

    blessings for a lovely Easter day~

  29. Artist, thank you for the visit and your kind words. <3

    Pat, they do give back a lot of love and affection. Thanks for reading. <3

    D., hi friend! I know your little Tin-ers has also found a blessing in you. xx <3

    Lisa,thank you for your sweet comments! <3

    Linda,your warmth just pours from your words. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me <3

  30. As you can see, it took me a few days to comment on your post. I had to wait until I wasn't thinking about it so much. People sometimes ask me how I manage as a vet tech, not to take home all the needy animals and have a menagerie.

    Well, at first it was sort of planned parenthood...I could only afford to take care of one. Then when that kitty succumbed to intestinal cancer, I got my first Cornish Rex. In a round about way, as I fell in love with their personalities, I began breeding them.

    Since then, many kittens have been born into my home and I have journals for each and every litter, day 1 til the day they leave there home here. In 20 years, I have only lost track of one cat, when the family divorced and all their contact info I had became invalid.

    I can remember each loss, still painfully-one deformed, two to blood clots from their hearts, one to pneumonia from inhaling milk when he was 18 days old. The stillbirths I can handle, it's the losses of lives that have had time to live that sadden me the most.

    And right now, as I am trying to get back to my single days and how many cats I can afford to care for and cater to their emotional and physical needs, I am choosing homes for some of my adult cats, that if Mike was still here, I wouldn't have considered letting go. But one went to a friend of 20 years, though most of it long distance and another to one of my co-workers who fell in love with him. But those are still losses for me and emotion filled, too.

    I know that feral cats and dogs learn things to survive that a nutured and cared for animal would not ever experience, but it saddened me to read of those occurrances. I even do exercises on the kittens until they are 3 weeks old, that help them be well adjusted and confident adults.

    So, in answer to that question people ask of me, I say I try and take the best care of the pets in my life, help others take care of the pets in their life where I can, and hope that is making enough of a difference in those animals well being and not take the weight of the world on my shoulders.

    You are making a difference in your cats and dogs lives, sadness and pain intervenes, and you must go on...they depend on you. Reading your story, I now know a little more about you and what you go through each day and come to the end of the day having made the best of the time as you could. Without you, they wouldn't have stood a chance to experience love and life at all.

  31. Teri, what a blessing you are to those Cornish Rex cats! I know your heart is full of love and compassion for all of the animal community.

    I work with the 'wild bunch'dogs so that they accept my authority with simple commands and hand gestures. Dogs are funny because they want to work out, learn something and get a rewarding pat and cuddle. They like structure and routine. I can see how people go through such suffering when there is a loss.

    I remember my Vet neighbor in Coronado, Ca who relayed a story of a rescued litter of beautiful black lab pups. He said he had to feed them with a tube and one night he was so sleepy that he overfed one and it died. He told me about the incident because I was upset about losing a puppy. I didn't know it couldn't nurse correctly and it starved. I was so sad because I felt responsible for the death. (My Lady Blue dog was not an experienced mother and she needed some help.)

    When I heard that even experienced vets make mistakes, I started to accept that we are all capable of mistakes and good works. It's better to try in some way. Only we know what is the contribution we must make in life. Your calling must be related to Cornish Rex cats. Teri, I'm sure they love you for all that you give them. Thank you for sharing your story. <3

  32. Lisa L., thank you for your comments about the life of a traveling Puerto Rican dog. Isn't is amazing how these animals bring us to an awareness of our responsibilities in life? Your daughter has learned from you to care! It's wonderful that you were able to continue to share your life with more dogs. Many blessings to you! xx <3


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