Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cats Rule! (or at least they think so)

Today I continue to feature our pets, the ones who own us, live with us, love us and make our lives better in so many ways. Animal communicator Karen Wrigley has generously allowed me to use one of the stories from her newsletters on my blog.  I hope you enjoy it.   

Karen is a well known animal communicator who has helped countless people and their pets— both nationally and internationally—with the process of communication, healing, and growth.  She has been featured as an expert in her field in numerous newspapers and publications, and  in the USA Today article titled, “Psychics Help Pet Owners Get a New Leash on Life”.  She has also appeared on several radio talk shows across the country including the very popular “Animal Talk” hosted by Dr. Marty Becker, author of Healing Power of Pets.  She is the author of Beyond Woofs and Whinnies.  

You can learn more about Karen's work by going to her website

Karen and Griz, her Lippizaner

Chester Black Cat
In life, some things look certain, yet are they?
He came running across my mother’s yard from the corn field the day after my father’s memorial. The grandkids named him Chester Black after their grandfather, James Chester Page. Originally my father’s name was Chester James, until his grandfather asked his grandson to change his first name to James, after him. Father’s reward was $10. For a young boy, it seems to me, it would take courage to change one’s given first name, yet father did. He bought a new bicycle giving him freedom to travel the country roads.
In life, some things may look certain, yet are they?
The grandkids carried Chester Black around their necks, held him like a baby, and came running when called. He told me he was a good mouser. I responded with a “thumbs up” attitude, and to show proof, would help his cause in staying. The next day a mouse was found by the front porch.
After family left, my mother and I, mostly I, were now attending to Chester Black’s needs. He was de-wormed, given quality cat food, and on a daily basis I worked with him to maintain his gentle nature. My mother thought he was sent to her for a reason. But, as the days went by, mother could not endear herself to Chester Black. She was perplexed why not, until a light bulb went on in her head. Throughout her life she had been a caretaker of elderly people and five children. She did not want more responsibility, including the needs of a cat.
With mother’s found understanding, I told Chester Black we were going to plan B, to find him another home. Chester Black Cat stayed calm and collected with this information. In fact, he helped me when I became concerned about his future, and continued to purr.
A few days later, Tracey, a childhood neighbor friend, spoke of her mother Treva, and how she wanted an animal to love and could use a good mouser. I believe Chester Black knew this, for I found a mouse at the back door on the deck where Treva would be sitting later that day.
When Treva sat in her chair I boasted of Chester Black’s catch. At that moment Chester Black came from the shrubs, walked past my mother and me over to Treva, and jumped into her lap. He purred and kneaded with his shiny black paws without using his claws. Treva petted and cooed. Chester jumped down, walked over to my mother, rubbed against her, licked her foot, and gave her a look of goodbye. He then sauntered back to Treva and jumped back into her lap. He turned his head, our eyes met, and in that second he brought me back to when he told me life works out when you let it.
Treva took Chester Black home that day. He now resides down a lane with barns to explore and mice to catch. Treva is madly in love and Chester Black is one happy cat.
Mother had been saying “yes” to others most of her life. All said to her this is the perfect cat for you, and was brought to her at a time and way that seemed magical. And it was, but not in the way we expected. Chester Black gave Mother an opportunity to say “no” to others, and “yes” to herself. This act took courage. Mother has always been a yes person. My spry mother at 83 years old now has her freedom to travel the road she chooses, and Chester Black found his perfect home.
In life, some things may look certain, yet are they?
Chester Black expresses:  Be true to you, with faith, and life will be better than your own expectations. Mouse anyone?
A while back I was in a communication with a lady who took in a young dog needing a home 17½ years ago.  The dog asked his person why she took him in. The short version―others thought she should. It took six years for them to bond and become friends. He told her at that time in her life she believed life was difficult, and so he fulfilled her belief system.
My mother at one time attracted those that were in need or needing tending to, and enjoyed doing so. But now she realizes she is ready for a change. Are you?

You can read more of Karen's newsletters on her website and order her book there.

And, well, what story about a cat is complete without the picture of a cat.  My cat Marley insisted on standing in for all cats this week. He looks so regal here, just after he has done something bad probably.                         

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cats and Dogs and Pets--Oh, My!

I talk a lot about animals in my interviews and on this blog.  I guess that’s only natural since I was raised on a farm.  At one point my husband and I travelled around the country in a tiny motor home with two cats and one dog.  Now we live with two cats (the house is theirs—we lease from them).

I thought it might be fun to include some thoughts about the pets that own us and those that find their way into our writing, so for the next several weeks this blog will be dedicated to all things pet.  This week the writer Jackie Vick shares with us a recipe for dog food.  When she sent it to me I was struck by how similar it was to a recipe I used with my cat.  I’m certain it kept her alive for years and contributed to her svelte body.  Maybe I should have used it on myself!

Jackie makes some important points about how careful as humans we are about what we eat, but are we as concerned about our pets?  Do we know what is good for them?  Jackie gives us an easy way to insure good health for them.
Author Jackie Vick

Chemicals and Corn in Dog Food: Oh, My!

Next time you visit the grocery store, take a look at your fellow shoppers. You’ll see them carefully scanning the labels searching for gluten-free foods, low sugar content, or whatever meets their dietary needs. These same well-informed consumers will move to the pet aisle and pick up whichever dog food is on sale!

Did you know that corn is hard for dogs to digest? Yet it’s a top ingredient in many dry foods. Then there are sinister-sounding chemicals, and words like “meal” and “by-product”. What exactly is the by-product of a chicken??? And the recent pet food recalls are enough to scare any pet parent.

That’s why I decided to make my dog’s food. Internet sites offered varying (and often militant) opinions. One site suggested adding garlic powder as a deterrent to fleas, while another swore this ingredient would kill your dog!  I was lucky enough to find a class offered by a local woman with a degree in animal nutrition.

Her recipes included grains, veggies, and meat, as well as additions like brewer’s yeast, calcium, flax seed, and the highly-debated garlic. I don’t add yeast because Buster’s tummy gurgles so loud I can hear it in the next room. You can clean, dry, and grind your own egg shells for calcium, but I’m lazy and buy bone meal from the health store. I do add the flax seed, but I avoid garlic, just in case.

When I rave about making my own food, most people respond with, “I haven’t got the time!” I’ve found with a few pots and a microwave, it really only takes a half hour. You can find 8 ounce storage containers and lids at Smart-n-Final, and they sell bulk meats, veggies and grains, so the cost isn’t prohibitive. Bone meal and flax seed are kept in stock at health food stores.

Here is a recipe I use for Buster. It’s adjusted for his colitis (lower protein), and I give him a doggie multi-vitamin just to be safe. I’m not a nutritionist or a vet, so keep in mind that your own dog’s needs might be different. Check with your vet. It’s great if you can find a class locally, but make sure to check the person’s credentials. 

Bone Appetite!

Thanksgiving Dinner

5 cups of cooked rice. (Brown or white will work.)
16 oz of green beans. (if canned, buy salt-free or rinse)
12 oz of butternut squash (I use frozen from the grocery store)
3 lbs of ground turkey
A handful of dried, unsweetened cranberries. 
1 TB of Bone Meal. 
2 TB of Flax Seed

Cook the rice according to package directions. If you have a microwave, the rice cooks up easily while you’re doing the other steps.

Brown and crumble the turkey until it’s thoroughly cooked.

Steam or boil the squash and green beans together.

Dump the rice into a large bowl when it’s finished.

Finely grind the turkey, cranberries, and veggies in a food processor (in batches). Add to the rice.

Sprinkle on the flax seed and bone meal.

Mix well.

Once it’s cool, put into containers. Keep a few days worth in the refrigerator and freeze the rest.

I’ve been known to toss everything into one pot and cook it on low until the turkey is done and the rice has absorbed the liquid. Like I said, easy-peasy!