Wednesday, March 2, 2016

On Being A Pet Mom by Leigh Riker

This is my cat, Daisy. She’s my virtual assistant—and along with the human members of my family, the light of my life. 



The other day I got to thinking about the long trail of pets that have so enriched my world. The first was part of a litter born to a neighbor’s dog. He raised purebred Beagles and didn’t want the “illegitimate” offspring of the female that had gotten out one night. Ah, love. I adopted the weeks-old pup, which might otherwise have met a bad end, bottle fed him, and he was with me and my parents for roughly fifteen years.

After that, in my own family—husband and two sons—we had a mixed-breed dog who was never fully housetrained L then a Great Pyrenees that loved to roam the neighborhood looking for sheep to herd. My kids had many guinea pigs, a gerbil or…fifty, and a few exotic birds. And I can’t forget Surge, the boa constrictor that, for a time, lived in a terrarium on my kitchen wall in New York City. Later, in the country, we owned a noble chestnut Saddlebred that was also a New Haven police horse for a time.

Then, finally, we became true cat lovers. Thus far we’ve had five. All were either given to us, acquired from a neighbor, or rescued from a shelter like Daisy.

A few weeks ago, she started moping around on the couch, sleeping more than she normally does (most of the day), drinking too much water—and, um, forgetting to use her litter box! She’d never had an accident in the nine years we’ve had her. So, off to the vet’s we went.

Daisy’s tests showed early stage renal disease plus a higher-than-normal blood sugar. Her vet decided to first treat her pre-diabetes with a prescription diet and soon added medicine.

That night after her initial dose, she nearly went into a diabetic coma. We thought we’d lost her, but at the local veterinary ER they were able to stabilize her. It’s a wonderful facility with many specialists on call, and we’re now working with them and her regular vet. The renal disease seems to be the culprit after all, responsible for both conditions. Daisy has shifted to a prescription food for that instead—and her blood sugar is now normal. She’s doing much better, thank goodness, in fact she’s on my lap right now “helping” me write this post. Purring, too, with more years of happy life ahead. I’m so relieved.

Over time the beloved pets before her have all gone over the rainbow bridge, and that’s always hard for a pet mom. But I wouldn’t trade the joy and love they gave for anything. They all still live in my heart and always will.

In my April Heartwarming book, Lost and Found Family, a beautiful Gordon Setter named Bob is a cherished pet in this troubled marriage. Bob’s actually a girl, but the little kid who named her insisted she was a boy like him. I hope you’ll like what turned out to be a very poignant story.



As a pet parent, who is your pride and joy? Leave a comment and I’ll pick the winner here of two Heartwarming novels.


33 comments:

  1. Leigh, thanks for reminding me. I let the dog in a few minutes ago and now don't know where he is. That usually means he's where he's not supposed to be, eating what he's not supposed to. For the last month, I've been buying lots of new socks for my son. ARG

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    1. Too funny. They're like children. Too quiet is never good. Saw a guy on Shark Tank once who sells 3 socks in a package so there's a spare. Good luck with the pup. 😀

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  2. Leigh,
    I adore kitties, puppies and big animals, too. Horses. Your post reminds me of the poignancy of our pets. All my "animal children" are scampering on or near the rainbow bridge, but it's interesting because at times, I can still feel them around. Their love and comfort never leave us.

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    1. Yes, it's so hard to lose them. Our horse was the worst in a way. We tried very hard to save him. Now he's running free in a field up there somewhere. I dream about the pets sometimes. Good memories to sustain us.

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  3. Leigh, your real story of pets and the one you have in the book are both touching. I've had many pets, too. But after losing my last cat I can't seem to take the plunge again, because saying goodbye is too difficult.

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    1. I know, Roz. After our fourth cat passed away, I waited five years before I got Daisy. Then one day hubby and I wandered into Petsmart and came home with her and all the supplies. You have to get to the right point before you can open your heart again. Hugs.

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  4. I'm so glad Daisy pulled through and is doing better. Kit-Kat, our 15 year old male cat is my pride and joy. We've had him since he was 2 months old, and we love him. When I was young we had a German Shepherd named April (I've mentioned her before), and although she's been gone over 30 years now, I still remember her and miss her. I love your book's cover, and it sounds great. ( :

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    1. Thank you, Laurie! The new book was an emotional one to write but I'm happy with how it turned out. Thanks about Daisy too. My husband and I were basket cases while she was sick. Hurrah for Kit-Kat!! Fifteen? Wow. And hugs about April whom you still miss. Love her name.

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  5. So happy to hear Daisy is on the mend. She looks adorable.

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    1. Thanks, Marion. She seems to be doing really well. She'll get a re-check on her kidney blood work in a couple of weeks, but yesterday she played for quite a while with a paper ball--which she hasn't done in months! We were thrilled. Poor baby, she probably felt bad long before we picked up on that.

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  6. A boa constrictor...yikes! I'm not sure I could sleep with that in the house, Leigh. Aw...Daisy looks so sweet. Since I don't have any pets, I've adopted Karen Rock's sweet dog, Zoey. I may have to adopt daisy too!

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    1. Jill, the more love Daisy can get, the better--so go ahead and adopt her too. The boa constrictor was a stretch (oh, bad pun) for me as well, and you should have seen the look on my son's nursery school teacher's face when she made a home visit and saw the snake. Probably thought we were crazy. Surge later resided at the Bronx Zoo.

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  7. Leigh, so sorry about what you and Daisy have been going through. Glad you have some answers and that she's doing better now. My fur-babies have always amaze me with their resilience and toughness when it comes to illness. Sounds like you've had an interesting mix of critters. I bet your kids loved that about you - that you were willing to let them adopt so many different kinds. But I'm with Jill, I could not relax with a snake in my house!

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  8. So true, pets do seem to have amazing resilience. Thanks for the good wishes. Daisy now is rubbing my arms while I type so mistakes may happen here! We keep talking about getting another dog too but it never happens. Not sure my older son appreciated the snake, but he loved his gerbils. My younger son was the guinea pig guy and is a confirmed cat lover.

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  9. I'm so glad Daisy's doing well. We've had Roxy, probably a Staffordshire mix, since she was 8 months old and her former owners moved to an apartment that wouldn't allow pets. She was housebroken and well mannered about not begging at the table or chewing things, but when we told her she wasn't allowed on the furniture, she assured us she was. She won.

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    1. Ah, poor Roxy. I've had several pets because people couldn't take them to new apartments. Thankfully, she has a good home with you. Is there anyone who has won the not-on-the-furniture war? I know I haven't. Daisy has taken every piece for herself and just this week decided the new armchair is also hers. Grrr.

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    2. Beth, you're the winner of the two Heartwarming books!! Congratulations.

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  10. I'm so glad Daisy's doing well. We've had Roxy, probably a Staffordshire mix, since she was 8 months old and her former owners moved to an apartment that wouldn't allow pets. She was housebroken and well mannered about not begging at the table or chewing things, but when we told her she wasn't allowed on the furniture, she assured us she was. She won.

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  11. As some of you already know, I am a dedicated wire-haired fox terrier fan and owner. I'm currently "mothering" Pearl, a lively six-year-old, although we both know she's pretty much the boss. Love the photo of your cat. Very sweet.

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    1. Linda, my aunt had a fox terrier named "Toughy." And he was! He terrified us kids though she loved him dearly. Pearl sounds much, much nicer. Love her name. I think T had a bad start with another owner. Our animals are always the boss, aren't they?

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  12. Leigh! I love your attitude - we just try to love and shelter whatever comes our way. So happy Daisy is doing well. It's amazing how well animals can cope now with what used to be fatal problems. We've had a long line of dogs and cats, and I remember each and every one for their special qualities. I swear I still hear the jingle of license and ID tags behind me sometimes and if I close my eyes, I can still feel every face against my cheek.

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    1. Thanks, Muriel. It is amazing how well animals can cope. My parents' Beagle lived on an Rx kidney diet for years so I'm hoping Daisy will too. So far, so good. You made me tear up at the jingle of tags behind you. When D was in the hospital, I swore I could hear her meow every now and then in the house. Kind of spooky, isn't it?

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  13. Fur babies! I've only had cats, unless you count my first pet, a goldfish names Cleo. Good thoughts for Daisy! And her mama.

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  14. Thank you, Anna! I love seeing your kitty's pictures. Cleo was the perfect name for your goldfish.

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  15. Just finished a nap with my rescue kitty Suzy. Not sure if something happened to her I could risk another kitty--I'm with Roz. And my daughter has horses that they love. Your cover is beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Patricia! Hope your Suzy lives forever!

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  16. I'm so glad Daisy's doing okay, Leigh! I'm a confirmed cat person, and even though my two are getting to be on the geriatric side, I hope I always have one or two.

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    1. You and me both, Liz. Daisy is doing really well so that's a relief. I know, if anything happens to her, I'm sure I'll adopt another. At one time we had four at once and they went on walks with us in the woods like a little caravan.

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  17. Oh, Leigh, I was so worried about Daisy, as I was reading your post. I am relieved and happy that she is well...and helping you write. We are fortunate to have been adopted by our two pups, black Labs Harley and Logan. We didn't think we were ready yet, after we had to say goodbye to our last three over a few years. Harley and Logan proved us wrong, and we are so happy about it!

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  18. Kate, I love your posts about Harley and Logan. Beautiful boys. And, um, Logan happens to be the hero's name in my September book! It is hard to adopt new pets after losing others, but I think you just know when that time is right. With Daisy, I'm glad my husband reached the same point at the same time I did. Thanks for worrying about her.

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  19. Animals have that way of weaving a place in your heart that belongs to only them, and even when they have gone, they still own you. I love both cats and dogs but for many years now have only owned cats. We loved and lost several along the way ... Jasper, Bubba, Georgie & Ginger, all who we still talk about often and miss daily -- and we have Lucy and Missy left. Unfortunately, Lucy is very sick right now and won't be with us much longer, but she spent more than 15 years bringing love and joy to our lives ... she's a beautiful long haired orange tabby. And the other light of my life is Missy. She was a stray when we took her in, so we don't know exactly how old she is, but she's been with us for 14 years now. You really don't know what unconditional love feels like until you're loved by a pet. <3

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