Category Archives: furry bodhisattvas

2 bd/2 ba apt available – dogs OK

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Tonight, as was I was fumbling with my keys to get into my house, I was besieged by the frantic barking of the dogs in the apartment building next door.

“Jesus, dogs, I live here. Can’t I come and go from my own house without you losing your shit?” I mutter to myself. (And yes, I know it’s not the dogs’ fault, but the humans. Still it gets old. Really old.)

It’s not a new complaint. These dogs are only the latest in a series of frantic dogs who have lived in that particular apartment over the years, which got me musing about the occupancy criteria.

Potential tenants (PT): We love it!  We’ll take it.
Landlord (LL): OK, great, but I need to ask you some questions first. Do you have a dog?
PT: Um, we have two. The ad said dogs were allowed.
LL: No, that’s great. How big are they?
PT: Oh, they’re small. Chihuahuas.
LL: Perfect. Do they bark a lot?
PT: Well, they’re protective. Yes, I guess they can be a bit vocal at times.
LL: But could you characterize them as “yappy”?
PT: Some might call them that. But, they’re only like that when they get bored or lonely.
LL: How often are they left alone?
PT: We both work, so they’re alone pretty much all day, and well, frankly most of the evenings too.
LL:  Are they territorial?
PT: Like we said, they’re protective. If anyone comes close to the house, they’ll probably bark.
LL: How close?
PT: I don’t know, 50 yards?  Yeah about half a football field in any direction sounds right.
LL:  Perfect!  Your dogs sound like they will continue the long distinguished history of bored-psycho-yappy dogs that have occupied this particular apartment. I’ll get you the paperwork and we’ll get you moved in ASAP. Welcome to the neighborhood.

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If it’s not one thing . . .

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A few days ago, the last of Binkles’ foot drama was over. The vet removed the pin in his foot that was used to reset the bone that had fractured.  I felt relieved that not only was my Binks as good as new, but I was looking forward to a period of time where it didn’t feel like I was dating my vet, so frequent were my visits.

As I pulled into the driveway with my newly-pinless bunny, I noticed that Pretty, my pet feral cat, was limping pretty badly as she came out to greet me. When I got out of the car, she came up to me, gave me a plaintive meow and held her paw up. Part of me was thinking “oh no, you poor thing” and the other part (the cheap, less compassionate part) was thinking “oh for crying out loud! Seriously?”

I took a look at her paw and could see nothing obvious. It clearly wasn’t broken as she was putting weight on it, and there was no visible or felt object stuck in it. She was moving around (albeit limping a bit) and eating just fine, so I figured this was a watch and wait situation.

The next day, she seemed better. Still slightly limping, but definitely in better spirits. I was relieved. However, the day after (on a Saturday, of course) I could see the paw had definitely taken a turn for the worse. It was swollen to twice its normal size, and her limp had become much more pronounced. No more waiting and watching. She is a feral cat, after all, and if it got worse she may go into hiding and I would never be able to get her.

Fortunately, she does let me touch her, so I petted her a while as she ate.  Then I betrayed her by quickly scruffing her and then stuffing into a carrier. She complained loudly and mournfully as we drove to the emergency vet.

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Mr. Binkles, the overly dramatic rabbit

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I had such high hopes for the month of April. This was to be the month of getting my fitness regime on track. March was all about getting caught up routine medical stuff, and reintroducing myself to my doctor, whom I hadn’t seen in four years. Everything checked out fine and dandy, so the next step was to work with a personal health coach on the exercise stuff, and then in May I was going to start working with a nutritionist. Yup, those were my plans. And you know what they say about plans  . . .

Instead, April became all about Binkles (and I could totally hear him saying “and that problem with that is . . .?”  (and yes, I realize rabbits don’t talk, much less read, much much less read my blog)).  You see, on April 1 (no joke), much rabbit drama ensued.

It was about 6pm on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I noticed the Binks was laying on his stomach stretched out. Warning sign number one of possible GI stasis. When I leaned down to check on him, he dashed into the bathroom and behind the bathtub. Warning sign number two. And finally when he rejected his most favorite treat in the whole world, a banana chip, I knew I had yet another case of stasis on my hands.

Uh oh

Thanks to my friend Judy, the Bunny Bodhisattva, I’ve learned how to treat this life-threatening condition myself at home: take his temperature, then sub-q fluids, heat, medication, and the most fun part, force feeding him this liquified hay goop. Then I confine him to his carrier and wait for his appetite to come back and some poops that tell me his digestive system is once again working. It’s nerve wracking and scary, but I’m getting more confident in my abilities to pull him through these episodes. But, this time something went wrong.

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The nightly ritual

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I did this piece of writing recently for a class I was taking. The writing prompt was “ritual.” Since I want to get some momentum going again with my blog, I hope you don’t mind some recycled material.

She knows the sound of my car coming up the driveway. I always drive in rather slowly, vigilantly, because I never know from where in the yard she will pop out. Occasionally, mostly in the winter months, I actually have to call for her, so during those times, I wait in the car a couple of minutes to give her time to make her appearance. Then I get out to find her pacing excitedly in front of my car. I say my first line:

“Oh, there you are.”

I’ll then open up the back passenger side of the car to scoop about half a cup of Cat Chow into an old buttery spread tub.

“Do you want some dinner?” is my next line.

She doesn’t answer, but rather heads towards the corner of the driveway where I have fed her every day for the last four and a half years. Her tail is erect and she keeps looking back at me as if to say “come on, hurry!”

I pour out the cat crunchies on the pavement. I used to use a bowl, but it kept getting pushed down the embankment by the raccoons.

“Here ya go, Pretty. Here’s your dinner.” I say stating the obvious.

Over five years ago, when Pretty was just a kitten, someone had dumped her and her sister in my neighborhood. Perhaps they knew that there were feral cat feeders in the area. Or perhaps it was just convenient. All I remember were these two kittens suddenly started showing up at the bowl where I was feeding another local stray. To distinguish between the two kittens, I started calling them by their predominant traits. Pretty was named such because, well, she’s pretty – a calico torbie, with the most perfect white markings and the greenest of eyes. Her sister I called Skitty because, well, she was skittish. Skitty disappeared shortly after I captured them both to have them spayed. Pretty has stuck around, but has refused all attempts to move her into the house.

When I first put the food down, she takes a couple of bites and then circles my legs, lightly rubbing against me. When she starts eating again, I pet her soft, shiny fur.

“Who is my pretty girl? That’s a good girl, eat eat.”

She takes a few more bites, and again circles and rubs.

“Come on, sweet pea, eat eat. I’m not going to stand out here all night.”

At night, Pretty will only eat while I am watching over her. She’s a very vigilant girl, if not a wee bit paranoid, and I think she feels safer when I’m there to ward off the imagined armies of raccoons, possums, neighborhood dogs and other cats. And perhaps she is overreacting a bit, but her strategy has worked as she is still here after five years whereas other ferals have come and gone during that period.

This cycle of eating, circling and rubbing continues at least three more times (longer in nicer months). I stare up at the stars and try to imagine my mind like a big open sky. Finally, I’ll call it a night.

“I gotta go, sweetheart, Keep eating. I’ll see you in the morning.” I say as I lean down to get one more hit of her soft soft fur.

It’s been like this night after night year after year and I can think of no happier ritual to welcome myself home.

Binkles in love – part 1

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When Mr. Binkles’ bunny partner, Mrs. Peabody died a couple of months ago, I feared he would never love again. Theirs was a close bond, or so I thought. I would often find them huddled together in the nesting box, and their mealtime rituals and games never failed to make me smile.  Even though I would throw in multiple pieces of carrot or broccoli or banana slices, they would both want the same piece. So they would play the mine/no, it’s mine game and chase each other around the pen stealing the food bit from each other. Eventually, they would settle down a few inches from each other and chow down peacefully and in earnest.

When I’m home, I open up the bunnies’ pen and let them have access to all of the house.  Binkles always comes charging out, eager to check out all of his domain (this is, after all, Binkles’ house, I am merely the live-in help). Peabody wasn’t as in much of a hurry, but she would come out and find some place in the house (usually behind the bathtub) to just hang out for a change of scenery.  While out and about in the house, those two wouldn’t interact too much with each other. Maybe a passing nose bump, but the closeness they displayed in their pen was not evident when they were out.

In the final weeks of Peabody’s life,  it was clear Binkles knew something was up. He became more gentle with her and spent more time grooming her, particularly around her nose where the cancerous tumor was growing. And while he still came charging out of the pen when I opened it, often he would return back to the pen to just hang out quietly with Peabody.

Peabody and Binkles

On the day I had to take Peabody for her final vet visit, I let Binkles remain out of his pen while I left for my sad errand. I wanted to make sure he was distracted when I came back home without his living and breathing partner.

According to house rabbit experts, in order for the surviving partner to be able to accept that his friend is truly gone, they need to be able to see their dead body. Otherwise, they will forever be waiting for their partner to return and would not be able to accept a new bond. Since I want Binkles to be happy, and I know he is a much happier bunny with a buddy, I brought Mrs. Peabody’s lifeless body home.

Binkles was out and about and didn’t notice me tearfully place her limp body in her usual spot in the pen. I took a seat in the living room and waited for Binkles to check back in to his pen. It took a few minutes before he went dashing into his pen (he tends to dash everywhere for no particular reason). When he first saw Peabody’s body, he nudged her playfully. He nudged her again. And then he went up and started grooming her face and her ears. He moved his way down half of her body, all the while grooming her. This lasted maybe ten minutes. And then finally, with a pronounced jump, he turned his back to her and hopped away.

I left her body there for another hour or so, thinking that maybe there was more to his process. But no, he was done. I don’t know what was going through his little bunny brain as he groomed her for those few minutes. Maybe he was making sure she was really and truly dead. Or maybe he realized that quickly, and the grooming was merely his way of saying good-bye.

For the next week, Binkles was a bit needier than usual, so I made sure he got lots of extra attention. I even let him stay out of his pen all night a couple of times.  However, after waking up with a rabbit on my pillow staring me dead in the eye, as if he were plotting something very very naughty, that leniency ended.

At the end of the week, I had to take him to be boarded while I was gone on retreat.  And while I was off in search of nirvana, Binkles would be on a search for a new partner.  More on that in Part 2.

Checking in

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Oh, hi.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  It’s been about two months since I last checked in with y’all.

Things here at Chez LazyBuddhist have been fine, for the most part.  Though I  did just lose Mrs. Peabody to cancer.  I had to put her to sleep last Friday.  Horrible decision, but I believe the right one.  She had a fast-growing tumor in her face which made it harder and harder for her to eat.  Maybe I erred on the side of too early – she still had a lot of life and spirit in her – but within a couple of days she would not be able to eat at all, then the risk of her going into a very painful condition called stasis would be quite high.  I did not want her to suffer. Everyone has assured I did the right thing at the right time, but still, it pains me.

It’s funny, I never thought I had a close bond with Mrs. P.  I always likened our relationship as a slightly icy mother-in-law, daughter-in-law relationship. I tolerated her because she made my boy bunny, Mr. Binkles happy.  They were a bonded pair. But, Binkles still has his mommy relationship with me, which I think made Peabody a little jealous.  She never came up to me and ask for petting, or even bothered to check in with me occasionally as she did her evening romps around the house.  I was OK with that. She was a very pretty bunny, as well as a very calm, confident one. Watching them simply be bunnies, either together or separately was always a joy.

I surprised myself a bit with how emotional I’ve been about this loss.  At first I thought I was mostly going to be upset with how it would affect Binkles. But, the copious tears I cried before, during and after her death tell me I was more attached than I thought.  She was a quiet presence, but one that was filled with life and an innate intelligence  I miss you, Mrs. Peabody.

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My spiritual practice has been going great guns.  According to this cool iPhone app, Insight Timer, for the last two months, I’ve been averaging 52 minutes a day meditating.  And next week at this time, I’ll be out at Spirit Rock again at a nine-day concentration retreat.

I’ve found a sitting group where I’m comfortable.  It’s a large group so it’s fairly easy to just blend into the crowd.  I still aspire to find a group where I can make some connections, yet not get consumed by the group.  It may be possible with this one, I just need to feel comfortable enough to show up at their monthly pre-sitting burrito party. For now, I’m happy just breezing in, having a lovely meditation, listening to the dharma talk, throwing a few bucks in the dana basket, and then breezing out.

The rest of my life has been fine. I’ve been working with some old traumatic/emotional shit in therapy.  Not always fun, but I think it’s worth it. Will the result be a new, improved Not-So-LazyBuddhist?  I doubt it. I’m actually pretty OK as I am. It will just be nice to clear out some of the obstacles that obscure my light.

Hope all has been well with you. I’m hoping this writing dry spell will end soon.

The mystery of the disappearing Yogi

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About a week ago, on a beautiful sunny winter’s day, I was rushing to leave the house to go meet a friend.  Yogi, the little cat who I had taken in  a month previous, was vacillating, as cats do, about whether or not she wanted to go outside.  She parked herself, half in and half out, in the middle of the doorway.  I didn’t have time for her nonsense, so I gently nudged with my foot to go outside.  She was already down the walkway by the time I turned around from locking the door.  And that was the last I saw of her.

Yogi was to be my great experiment in having an indoor/outdoor cat.  She had been outside for several weeks before she finally walked in to my house and made herself at home.  She knew a good thing when she saw it.  When I let her out on previous occasions, she would hang for a while outside, but was always eager to come back into the house.  I never had to bribe her or even ask twice.

She was an odd little cat.  It was in November that she started making guest appearances at the spot where I feed Pretty, my longtime feral cat.  This little black and white stranger was not at all skittish, and would immediately start purring and making air biscuits when you picked her up.  I figured with a cat this tame, that she must belong to a neighbor and  was just another annoying moocher who came around and ate Pretty’s food.  I’m very protective of Pretty, and any creature who disturbs our routine is subject to my annoyance.

One of my neighbors, Bonnie Jo, who feeds a feral colony at the end of my street, decided to take on Yogi (whom she called Pogo) as one of her clan, and started feeding her and set up a little cat house for her on my property, away from Pretty.  I had no problem with that.  With a regular feeding schedule (Bonnie Jo is like clockwork) and a warm place to sleep, Yogi became a regular.  Even Pretty even learned to tolerate her. And giving Yogi a nice petting in the morning became part of my routine.

One sunny day in January, it was so warm I had my front door open as I went about my household chores.  Yogi parked herself outside the screen door in the morning and started looking inside longingly.  “Oh don’t try to make me feel guilty, young lady”, I told her every time I caught her looking in.  She just sat there.  And sat there.  And sat there some more.  All day.  Finally, around 4:30 pm I broke down and called her bluff.  “Fine. You want in?  I dare you to come in.”  I opened the door and in she walked.  And after some initial inspection of the premises, she curled up on my favorite blankie and went to sleep.

Yogi makes herself at home

For the first couple of days, I would put her back outside when I wasn’t home. She needed to get checked out by a vet before it was safe to to have her interact with my other cats, Sasquatch and Tangerine. One morning, however, she decided that this arrangement was not suitable and wanted to be in the house NOW.  As I was getting ready for work, that damn cat started leaping up on my window sills and climbing my screen doors.  She would not take no for an answer.  After I made some minor configurations of the house in order to keep the newcomer away from the old timers, Yogi moved in.

Yogi and I had a strange relationship.  Maybe it was the bold way she foisted herself on me, or maybe it was learning within a week after she joined the household that she was soon going to cost me $600 to get a possibly cancerous lump on her side biopsied (plus the promise of further  medical costs and/or the pain and sadness of watching her decline).  She had her moments of being very affectionate and sweet, but most of the time she was indifferent to to everyone in the household.  She was an odd little presence, but I accepted her and was willing to take care of her, though she wasn’t necessarily in my heart.  But, I certainly didn’t want her to leave.

There are, of course, theories as to where Yogi has gone. I try not to dwell on the bad scenarios. I’m hoping maybe her previous people found her and there was a joyous reunion.  Or perhaps she just walked into someone else’s house  to try them on for a while.  Or maybe she was merely an emanation who came into my life as to test how open my heart was. If that was the test,  I fear I failed it.