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Getting better every day
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Published Thursday, August 11, 2016 @ 8:09 PM EDT
Aug 11 2016

Instead of a bulky "Elizabethan" collar, we outfitted Pixie with a onesie that belonged to my wife's granddaughter. It worked quite well, keeping her from worrying her incision, making her feel she was being constantly snuggled, and weirding out the other animals so they wouldn't bother her.

She spent the first full day after surgery lying around, whimpering, and looking pitiful. We were a bit concerned. Then Pumpkin the cat, upset because there was no more gravy in her can of cat food, pushed it off the counter where she eats.

As soon as it hit the floor with a resounding splat, Pixie shot out of her bed and into the kitchen, in order to beat the Shelties to the tasty remnants of the cat's meal.

We're much relieved. Pixie is doing fine.


Categories: Cats, Dogs, KGB


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Another update
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Published Wednesday, August 10, 2016 @ 11:46 PM EDT
Aug 10 2016


"I hurt, I'm sleepy, and I'm never going to trust you again.

Pixie was spayed, had a deciduous tooth and a molar removed, and had an umbilical hernia repaired today. We dropped her off at the vet at 8:30 am and picked her up about 2:30pm.

The tech said everything went without a hitch. Perhaps, but that look in Pixie's eyes haunts me. I think I've lost her trust.

When we took her to the vet this morning, my wife stayed in the car. So the person who handed her over to the strangers who performed these atrocities to her person was me. When we rescued her from her torturers, Mom got a whimper and a tail wag. Me: nada.

Pixie's still rather out of it. She's been mostly asleep all day, and just had a little bit of chicken and some water. I'm downstairs working in my office; she's upstairs sleeping in her dog bed with her blanket and her stuffed bunny, with Mom sleeping just a few feet away.

Dogs are nothing if not forgiving and conduits of unconditional love, so I'm sure Pixie and I will be as right as rain in a few days. Still, that look...

On the plus side, just a day after her flea treatment Pumpkin the 19 year old cat is back to her imperious yet affectionate self, tapping me on the leg when she wants fed and climbing on me whenever I lie on the couch, becoming her soft, warm piece of human furniture.

I didn't sleep last night, worrying about Pix, and I have to work late tonight to catch up on everything I didn't do yesterday. Life goes on.

====

If you have a chance, watch the Tom Hanks movie A Hologram For The King. It's about a divorced, self-doubting, desperate American salesman who has to put on a demo for the king of Saudi Arabia. As someone who's had to do demos in a non-English speaking country under adverse conditions, I could really identify with Hanks' character.

A relatively small film, it cost $30 million but grossed only $4.7 million in the US, where it played for 11 weeks. Its widest release was just 523 theaters. It has the dubious distinction of being the lowest grossing film to feature Tom Hanks in top billing since 1986's Every Time We Say Goodbye, which ran in only 83 theaters and grossed only $278,000.


Categories: Cats, Dogs, KGB, Tom Hanks


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Updates
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Published Tuesday, August 09, 2016 @ 8:37 AM EDT
Aug 09 2016

Capital One never called back, but the mysterious $299 pending charge has disappeared.

Had to endure another three-day "pre-authorization" wait to get a prescription refilled. It irks me that some clerk at an insurance company can interfere with the treatment prescribed by a board-certified physician with 20 years of experience.

Speaking of medical stuff, got my flu shot yesterday and beat the rush. Here's hopiing they guessed correctly about the strains that will be prevalent this winter. According to the manufacturer's website, it takes about three weeks to develop whatever immunity the vaccine will provide and, if I'm reading the chart correctly, it's supposed to be 60% effective, which, frankly, doesn't inspire confidence.

But I haven't had influenza for seven years running now. I did spend three days in the hospital in 2012 with mycoplasma pneumonia, a bacterial infection for which there is no effective vaccine. I asked my doctor about those pneumonia vaccine commercials which promise protection from 13 strains of the illness. He pointed out there are about 30 different types of pneumonia, and the two times I had it (another time back in the '80s), it was mycoplasma and therefore the vaccine would be ineffective. Incidentally, mycoplasma pneumonia is commonly referred to as "walking pneumonia." Still no vaccine for the boogie-woogie flu, either.

Pumpkin, the 19+ year old feline and senior lesser mammal is going to the vet today for her feline distemper vaccine. More importantly, I hope to find out the cause of a recent bout of ongoing hair loss (not shedding) and atypical behavior. Veterinarians are surprised when they discover her age. Her blood panels and dental condition are like those of a ten year old cat, at least at her last visit two months ago. She's taken to lying at the top of the steps and staring into space, unresponsive until you actually touch her. Her age is equivalent to a human in her mid-90s, so it's perhaps not unusual, but the rapid onset of the behavior has us concerned.

And tomorrow, the small, insane dog-like creature, Pixie the Shih Tzu, goes in to be spayed, have a breed-typical minor umbilical hernia repaired, and to have some deciduous (baby) teeth removed. In some dogs, the baby teeth don't fall out. This is also not unusual in Shih Tzus.

My first job out of high school was veterinary assistant. I've seen scores of spays, neuters, and other surgical procedures performed. The Doc never lost a patient or, for that matter, had to deal with any complications. That was 45 years ago, and there've been significant improvements in anesthesia and surgery procedures, but I have to confess I'm worried about the little stinker. Small dogs (she's 12.5 pounds) and brachycephalic breeds, including Shih Tsus, have more problems with anesthesia. They can suffer from hypothermia and hypoglycemia, and the squished face can cause breathing problems.

Anesthesia deaths in canines is rare, about 1 in 2000 (0.0005%). SHe's young and healthy, though, so I'm not going to worry about the surgery. Instead, I'm going to worry about how I'm going to keep that Elizabethan collar on her and prevent her from hurling herself from beds and couches, one of her favorite activities.

Her other favorite activity is napping with Dad. We'll try to focus on that.


Categories: Capital One, Cats, Dogs, KGB Family


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With apologies to Michelangelo
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Published Tuesday, May 10, 2016 @ 7:51 AM EDT
May 10 2016


The Creation of the Internet


Categories: Cats, Michelangelo, Photo of the day


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All in the family
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Published Sunday, May 04, 2014 @ 12:09 AM EDT
May 04 2014


Granddaughter Joelle all tired out after a fun day with her cousins.


Granddaughter Joelle gives me the look I get from most young ladies...


Just a couple buds hanging out on the couch.


Sleep barking.


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Clearing off the desktop...
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Published Sunday, December 15, 2013 @ 2:42 PM EST
Dec 15 2013


Pumpkin and Chloe share a bed.
In related news, Hell has frozen over.

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I don't think granddaughter Joelle is buying
the whole dancing sugarplums visions thing.


Categories: Cats, Cleaning off the desktop, Congress, KGB Family, Miscellany


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Elegy to a Mostly Maine Coon
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Published Monday, November 04, 2013 @ 6:39 AM EST
Nov 04 2013

(Originally published November 4, 2002)

Hobbes came home yesterday.

More precisely, our late feline's cremated remains were delivered to my unsuspecting wife, who received a telephone call from the nice lady at Backyard Burials a scant 30 minutes prior to his arrival.

Hobbes' true pedigree had never been firmly established. He had been harvested from a litter of feisty farm kittens of various flavors. We surmised a good percentage of his lineage was Maine Coon; a Mostly Maine Coon, if you will.

He was a big fella, 16 pounds, even in declining health. He was various shades of orange with a few swirls of white, the color depending on his current degree of shedding or attitude toward personal hygiene.

His gargantuan skull bore the distinctive dark "M" above his forehead, which I jokingly said stood for "moron." His temperament matched the breed's description: a big, gentle, good-natured goof. He had a high-pitched, trilling voice that was consistent with Maine Coons and totally out of character for a creature of his impressive bulk. Think of a feline Mike Tyson, and you'll get the effect.

My then pre-teen daughter Sara named him after the stuffed tiger in Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. I always believed the moniker was more accurately a nod to the English philosopher. The cat was a living example of Thomas Hobbes' theory of materialism: people (and, apparently, big goofy house cats) are motivated by appetite and aversion. Hobbes the cat demonstrated this on a daily basis. It became a family game to place a tempting morsel near an object that frightened him, to watch his reactions as his "fear/food" calculator kicked in, and to wager whether his innate gluttony would overcome his intrinsic cowardice.

Like most house cats, Hobbes really had no useful function in our household, other than to use the white wall to wall carpeting as a canvas for his prodigious hairball output and to generate carbon dioxide for the house plants. He could have been the prototype for Star Trek's tribbles. Like the fictional creatures, he was warm and furry, semi-mobile, possessed a ravenous appetite and made purring noises that engendered a feeling of serenity in the humans around him.

Hobbes was a karmic grounding rod, especially in his later years. He was always serene, almost Buddha-like, dozing in the sun, intently watching the dust motes float by. Dogs can sense emotional turmoil and, in response, express empathy and concern. They're reflectors of anxiety. Express anxiety in the presence of a dog and you have an anxious dog. Hobbes was an angst heat sink. You could feel the distress dissipate as you petted him, his aura of imperturbable calmness surrounding you.

While we received his ashes yesterday, Hobbes departed over a month ago. The cremation of animals doesn't seem to warrant the same sense of urgency as human dissolution. There are no wakes to hold, no religious ceremonies to conduct. Indeed, many claim there are no animals in the afterlife.

I once got into an discussion with a minister about the seeming exclusion of non-humans from Paradise. I pointed out that in the Book of Revelation, the apostle John says "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse."Revelation also states "the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." Which indicates to me that not only are there animals in heaven, they're really snazzy dressers. (One could argue that if John had his vision today, he would see Humvees instead of palominos. But I'll leave this exercise in operational semantics to the Left Behind folks.)

Of course, the real question here is: do animals have immortal souls? Pope John Paul II said in 1990 that "animals possess a soul and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren"; that all animals are "fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect" and are "as near to God as men are." The Reverend Billy Graham sort of sidestepped the issue by stating "God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."

***

It was a very stressful time. Sara was dealing with severe morning sickness and emotionally wasn't up to it. Pam was recovering from her bypass surgery and couldn't be alone, so Doug had to stay at home with her.

It was just me, sitting in the small examination room, waiting for them to return with Hobbes and the IV apparatus. I desperately wished Doug or Sara was there. Their presence would have switched me into Dad Mode, where the neurons and synapses arrange themselves in a way that causes me to become the gruff but sensitive old curmudgeon who provides emotional support and words of sage advice.

Instead, it was just me. The guy who cries at the end of Field of Dreams. The fool who was scarred for life by Old Yeller. The idiot who has to leave the room when Emergency Vets is on. The sap whose last act before filing for bankruptcy was sending a check to the local no-kill shelter.

The doctor returned with Hobbes, who was his normal placid self. Only the slightly labored breathing belied his condition but, as always, he maintained his ineffable cockeyed equanimity. He studiously ignored the hideous, lethal device attached to his leg. Decorum demanded it.

He sat sphinx-like, front legs outstretched. He opened his eyes, focused them with some effort, became aware of my presence. He emitted that ridiculous girlish chirp of his. It was a sound he reserved for those rare instances in which he felt it necessary to summon me to witness an event of tremendous import. His last great discovery was that dry cat food batted into a cold air return would cause the furnace's electrostatic air cleaner to make an amazing zapping sound.

I believe he sensed he was on the threshold of an even more significant revelation.

I knelt down, level with his ears, and softly told him what a good Hobbers he was. I put one hand across his front legs and scratched his neck.

His head slowly pointed upwards and he sniffed the air. He made that goofy smile of his, then opened his eyes and looked into mine.

He rested his head on my hand. I focused on that big stupid "M" on his forehead, but peripherally I was aware of the plunger slowly sinking into the barrel, fluids flowing in clear plastic tubes.

Hobbes relaxed. He leaned against me, closed his eyes again, and began purring. He didn't stop until the syringe was empty.

I don't know what Heaven looks like. But I know it sounds like the purring of a mostly Maine Coon.


Categories: Animals, Cats, KGB Family


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No problem...
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Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013 @ 8:57 AM EDT
Apr 10 2013

Our 15-year-old Sheltie, Lucy, has a tendency to snore. Our 16-year-old cat, Pumpkin, applies a practical solution.


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Sorry.
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Published Sunday, March 24, 2013 @ 12:21 AM EDT
Mar 24 2013

Couldn't resist.


Categories: Animals, Cats, Photo of the day, The Beatles, WTF?


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Guardian kitty
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Published Friday, March 08, 2013 @ 8:08 AM EST
Mar 08 2013

It's not unusual for me to wake up to discover Pumpkin, our 16-year-old black cat, asleep on my back.

But at 2:30 this morning, she wasn't sleeping. She was yelling in my ear while simultaneously embedding a single claw in my right arm.

Not enough to draw blood, but it certainly got my attention.

Once I sat up in bed and found my glasses, I saw her at the bedroom door. She yelled at me again, circled twice, then disappeared. I heard her bounding down the steps and into the kitchen.

I followed her and discovered our 15-year-old Sheltie, Lucy, lying next to the door leading to the cellar, beneath the child gate we put there to keep her from attempting to navigate the steps.

Lucy developed focal seizures this past Monday, and the phenobarbital that controls her condition has also knocked her for a loop. Until she becomes acclimated to the drug, the medication-induced ataxia has turned her into a friendly little Scottish drunk.

My guess is she decided she needed to go out, headed for the steps,and didn't notice the gate. When it fell on her, she decided she'd just lie there and sleep it off.

The stairs weren't blocked, so Pumpkin could have made it to the litter box with no problem. No ulterior motive- there's no doubt she knew her friend was in trouble and determined she needed someone with opposable thumbs to handle the situation.

Once I extricated Lucy and took her down to my office to spend the remainder of the night, Pumpkin positioned herself on a shelf under my desk unit, where she could watch the dog's inert form. She moved only when Lucy got up and started wandering around. The cat would sit down in front of Lucy, halting her progress. The dog would then lie down, give Pumpkin a wet kiss on the face and then pass out again.

I'm a definite dog person. But I have to admit, I'm starting to become rather impressed by felines as well.


Categories: Cats, Dogs, KGB Family


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Stoned, but hanging in there
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Published Wednesday, March 06, 2013 @ 4:29 AM EST
Mar 06 2013

The first day of seizure-inhibiting phenobarbital treatment really zonked her out, and she's still kinda stoned and shaky, but Lucy ate all her breakfast, had a long drink of water, did her business, and made her daily inspection of the back yard.

I'm not sure she even realized it snowed last night but hey, haven't we all had mornings like that?

The other two dogs and the two cats spent the night with me in my office. Lucy was the only one who really got any sleep. The lesser mammals are now all unconscious under my desk, while I have to spend the next eight to ten hours writing a MacroSPITBOL function definition to create, name, and populate multiple table structures at runtime.

That phenobarb is looking mighty attractive...


Categories: Animals, Cats, Dogs, KGB Family, Photo of the day


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Photo of the day
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Published Saturday, February 23, 2013 @ 9:38 AM EST
Feb 23 2013


Categories: Cats, Photo of the day


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It's not polite to stare
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Published Saturday, January 12, 2013 @ 8:06 AM EST
Jan 12 2013

It's also probably not safe. Scrape the gray matter off the wall behind you, go back out to the kitchen, and get yourself another cup of coffee. Then go check out Reddit. I hear there's some good stuff over there.


Categories: Animals, Cats, Photo of the day, WTF?


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Ah. This explains it...
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Published Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 4:55 AM EDT
Oct 15 2012


Categories: Animals, Cats, Photo of the day, Science


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Quote of the day
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Published Sunday, September 16, 2012 @ 9:18 AM EDT
Sep 16 2012

Faceboook prototype edition


Categories: Animals, Cats, Facebook, Quotes of the day


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Photo of the day
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Published Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Aug 17 2012


Categories: Animals, Cats, Photo of the day


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Photo of the day
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Published Friday, June 22, 2012 @ 5:42 PM EDT
Jun 22 2012


Categories: Cats, Dogs, Photo of the day


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Unfair
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Published Sunday, June 10, 2012 @ 12:51 PM EDT
Jun 10 2012

The dog on the floor gets the air conditioning vent. The dog on the couch gets the fan. The cat contemplates the unfairness of it all.


Categories: Cats, Dogs


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Photo of the day
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Published Tuesday, June 05, 2012 @ 3:06 AM EDT
Jun 05 2012


Categories: Cats, Photo of the day


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Close order napping drill
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Published Tuesday, March 06, 2012 @ 12:19 AM EST
Mar 06 2012

The cat runs a tight ship.


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Photo of the day
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Published Saturday, February 18, 2012 @ 12:11 AM EST
Feb 18 2012

"I can't hear you. I have a cat on my head."


Categories: Animals, Cats, Dogs, Photo of the day


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Damage control
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Published Monday, October 31, 2011 @ 11:46 PM EDT
Oct 31 2011

Back in the halcyon, pre-Internet days of KGB Consulting, my office had a half dozen computer systems, over a dozen telephone lines, the usual collection of office equipment, and a couple hundred feet of various phone and low-voltage control cabling stuffed above the suspended ceiling.

Since the business folded back in 2000, I only need two "work" systems. I disconnected the Verizon phone service five years ago, when I called to report a service outage at 10 am and was told all their representatives were busy and to call back later. So much for the superior reliability of landlines. I switched to Vonage, cut my phone bill in half, and now just have to deal with Comcast for all my telecommunications services. (I complain about Comcast but, truth be told, aside from their crappy DVRs, their performance has been exemplary, at least from a signal standpoint. In the past 16 months I can't remember a single outage.)

But I digress.

Because of the literally hundreds of feet of legacy cabling stuffed in the ceiling above my head, I was never able to reconfigure my office the way I really wanted. So I decided to quit procrastinating, pull everything down, and rewire the entire enchilada.

As the picture above shows, my office now looks like the bridge of the U.S.S. Reliant following the Enterprise's sneak attack in Star Trek II.

I'm about 20% through. Misty, my unofficial liaison to the lower mammals in the household, has stayed with me through the ordeal. The other pups and the cats come down only when nature calls. They nervously glance upward at the ceiling, then hurry through to the safety of the back door or litter box. I keep telling them the sagging lines are low-voltage signal cables and not ac power runs, but I don't think they believe me.

The goal is to get this done by the end of the week, which is probably doable with a couple late nights after work.

Provided I can teach Misty how to wire the mini-PBX.


Categories: Animals, Cats, Dogs, KGB, Star Trek


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Going home
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Published Saturday, October 01, 2011 @ 8:44 AM EDT
Oct 01 2011

(YouTube video: "Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die)

By now you must know there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadow of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passages. We come and we go. We come when we are needed; we leave when it is time. Death is necessary; it defines life. I will see you again. I will watch over you. I hope in your grief and loneliness, that you will consider how sad it would have been, had we not had this time together; not had the chance to give each other so much. I do not mourn or grieve. But I will miss standing beside you, bound together on our walk through life. Even as I know, there is a long line of others waiting to take my place and stand with you. Thank you. It was nothing but a gift.

Remembering Deja, Sasha, Quark, and Beanie.


Categories: Animals, Cats, Dogs, Video, YouTube


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Unstable female, cats, and AutoTune
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Published Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 12:04 AM EDT
Jul 08 2011

This is awesome on so many levels.

(Autotuned version of eHarmony cat lady dating video.)


Categories: Animals, Cats, Music, Video, WTF?, YouTube


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Grrr.
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Published Sunday, June 19, 2011 @ 4:53 AM EDT
Jun 19 2011

As allergy sufferers know, this season's been particularly bad. My daughter and I have been dosed by our respective physiscians with enough corticosteroids to dry up the Mississippi basin. Despite these heroic efforts, we're always "on the edge." One tiny challenge to our hair-trigger immune systems can easily bust a hole in our shaky pharmaceutical dykes.

My levee burst at about 4 am when Pumpkin, our evil cat, apparently decided she wanted to fall asleep on her favorite piece of endothermic furniture, namely me. She first sat on my head, providing my eyes, sinuses and upper respiratory system with a more than moderate dose of fur and dander. She then moved on to the only exposed human body part on the bed- my lower right leg. As she settled into place, I apparently startled her by sneezing. She attempted to maintain her stability in the cute way cats do, by extending her quasi-lethal, razor-like claws quite firmly into my calf.

My leg jerked upward in a powerful reflex action, catapulting the accursed feline into the bed's headboard, where her trajectory was modified in such a way that she was deposited into a mass of sleeping shelties Who Were Not Amused.

Somehow the rest of the household remained unconscious during the festivities, which involved nearly a half-dozen small furry mammals cascading down the steps in high dudgeon, accompanied by a greater mammal using the dark, unpleasant part of his vocabulary in an extended, hissed exhalation that thankfully did not involve the larnyx. In the meantime, my calf started erupting in hives and producing an itching sensation reminiscent of the chest-bursting scene in Alien.

So, at 4:10 am, I'm downing prednisone pills like M&Ms, slathering hydrocortisone cream on my leg, giving myself an albuterol treatment and squirting naphazoline in my eyes. The dogs are under my desk, alternately cowering in fear and growling at the cat, who, given the supremely narcissistic tendencies of her species, is lying on the spare office chair, staring at me in dull curiosity through drooping eyelids.

Going to church won't be of any help. I recently joined the Unitarians, so I can no longer invoke the wrath of some supernatural being to rain down flaming justice on those who afflict me.

I'll just have to settle for extreme grumpiness for the balance of the day.

And wheezing.

You've been warned.


Categories: Animals, Cats, Dogs, KGB, KGB Family


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