Dusty napping

The front porch is Dusty’s domain, at least when Sylvester and Smokey aren’t trying to stare him down. One of his favorite things is napping.

Sometimes he lies on top of his house. He have a cat house with a heated pad, enclosed by this foam insulation board to keep the rain and wind out.

He needs a pillow.

Sometimes sometimes the sun is too bright.


The Kings of Denmark

It has been seven years since my fourth and last Doberman Pinscher died. I have thought about, maybe, some day, getting another one. Someone I used to work with said you can’t be loyal to a dog, but you can be loyal to a breed. But for some reason, I have mixed feelings about getting another Doberman. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to be loyal to a dog.

So occasionally when I think about another dog, I think about a breed other than a Doberman. One day about a month ago I told Leah, “Hey, we should get a Great Dane!”

Imagine a dog bigger than Leah! Imagine him lying on the sofa with us, or pushing us off the bed at night, if we let him sleep in bed with us. Imagine how much dog food he would eat. Imagine walking him. I used to think a Doberman was a big dog until I saw one of mine standing next to a Great Dane.

Planning for a new dog is not an urgent problem. We have three dogs, which is, at a minimum, one too many. Two is a full house, three is a madhouse. Of course Zeke is getting old. We will have had him 11 years this summer, so he will be at least 12. He’s still healthy, but he’s a graybeard now. Lucy is also a graybeard. We don’t know how old she is, maybe 12, maybe 14. She, too, is old but showing no signs of declining health. Sam is a real youngster. So I doubt that our dog roster will get any shorter for a while. But isn’t it good to plan?

So I was thinking, if we get a Great Dane, what will we name him? I’m not great at choosing names. Not an urgent problem, but no harm in checking, right? So what about naming him (or her) after one of the kings of Denmark?

I Googled the kings of Denmark, searching for a good dog name. I was amazed to see that the list goes back more than 1000 years, to Gorm the Old, who reigned from around 940 to 958 AD. He died at about 58 years old. Gorm? I don’t think so.

Then there are Harald, Sweyn, Cnut and Harthacnut. Harald is a possibility, but I don’t think I like it. Sweyn is too hard to say. Cnut (even Cnut the Great) won’t work. For one thing, it violates my first rule for naming dogs: you must be able to visualize yourself shouting the name at the top of your lungs, and you cannot shout Cnut. No way. Harthacnut is ridiculously long for a dog’s name, plus there’s that “cnut” hiding at the end.

Magnus the Good might work. Magnus was a bastard child who died without children at age 23 on 25 October 1047. I wonder how true that date is, and if it has been adjusted for changes in the calendar.

Olaf, Eric and Niels don’t seem like dog names. Valdemar is too much like a fantasy villain. Abel might work, but Christopher doesn’t. There are a lot of Christians and Fredericks, definitely not dog names.

The one thing the kings of Denmark seem to have in common, along with names unsuitable for a dog, was that most of them died young. Most of those who did not die in their 20’s or 30’s died before 60. A very few of the ancient kings of Denmark lived into their 70’s. The oldest I could find was Christian IX, who died in 1906 at age 87, a remarkable outlier. Of course the more recent kings or queens generally lived somewhat longer than the ancient kings of Denmark. But most of the kings of Denmark were younger than I am when they died.

I did not find a good king’s name for a Great Dane, except for possibly Magnus, but looking at their ages at death made me think about something else. When we humans get a pet dog or cat, we have to prepare ourselves for the fact that that dog or cat is almost certainly going to die before we do. That’s true for most of our lives, but at some point, at some age, we have to understand that a new dog or cat could well outlive us.

Leah would like to have a Siamese cat, like she used to have, one that might provide some of the emotional interaction that none of our current cats does. I would like to have another Doberman, or maybe a Great Dane. Neither of us is morbidly waiting around for our current cats and dogs to die, but, realistically, they probably will all die before we do. And at that point we have to think about how we will ensure that our responsibilities to any new cat or dog are carried out if our pets outlive us. Neither of us expects to die any time soon, but both of us are at an age that, if a 30-year-old read the obituary, they wouldn’t say, “They died so young!”

Maybe we should consider adopting senior pets, if we live long enough.

Cat heaven, part 2

On Friday Leah and I visited our pet sitters Hannah and John again. This time it was ostensibly to give them a spare fall wreath for their door. The real reason was for Leah to see their cats again.

One of the cats is actually a dog. Can you tell which one?

Leah loves these cats, and I know why.

This was the second time we visited Hannah and John’s cats. I blogged about the first time back in February.

At least one of the cats like the wreath.

This is Oreo. He was ready to settle in for a wreath nap.

These cats are extraordinarily friendly, or at least “extraordinarily” compared to our cats. Of our cats, Smokey is the closest in behavior to Hannah and John’s cats. Smokey loves to be petted and pretty much doesn’t care what you do to him (like combing out tangles), but he absolutely does not want to be picked up. Hannah and John’s cats don’t care.

Leah has had cats like these before. Maybe one day she can get another.

Stray cats

Two new stray cats have shown up on the mountain. This time they are staying mostly up at a neighbor’s house across the road from our old house. An orange cat showed up a few months ago. Our neighbor Ann started feeding it (along with foxes and deer). A few weeks ago another cat showed up. This one is a gray tabby with a bob tail. Both are very skittish. Ann says both run away if she comes towards them.

Our little problem cat Sylvester disappeared for three or four days a couple of weeks ago, before the gray cat showed up. Ann said he was up at her house. Leah eventually found him between Ann’s house and her next-door neighbor’s house. She brought him home, and he seemed to settle back into whatever kind of routine he has.

This is the gray cat on our front porch.

This is a terrible phone photo taken at night through the glass of the storm door. This cat looks a lot like Chloe, down to white socks but this one’s socks are longer, more like knee length rather than lower calf like Chloe’s. The odd boxes are foam insulation panels we put around the front porch cat houses to shield the opening from wind and rain.

We don’t know whether the new cats are male or female, but I am beginning to suspect that at least the gray cat is male because Sylvester has started spraying. I saw Smokey and the gray cat in a feline standoff in our driveway Tuesday evening. When the gray cat ran away (white socks flashing as he retreated), Sylvester came up and sprayed where the cat had been. We saw Sylvester spraying Ann’s neighbor’s shrubs Wednesday night when we went looking for him.

This is not a good development. We had problems with Sylvester spraying in the house last year. Our vet diagnosed a urinary problem. This time I’m afraid it’s a sociological problem. He has shown some signs recently of discomfort, which may be a reoccurrence of the urinary problem or something unrelated. Whatever it might be, I hope it doesn’t extend into the house.

The Mysterious Basement

Smokey and Chloe have discovered the basement door. We don’t really know why they are so interested, but they are. I have observed that if there is a door with a cat on one side, that cat wants to get to the other side, and so it is with the basement door. They passed the door many times before it became such an attraction. They must have seen me going down one day and realized that it was a door to a mysterious place that was not on the same side of the door as they were.

Here’s Smokey considering.

The brown thing at the bottom of the door is there to keep drafts from blowing under the door.

The door does not open, so Smokey tries to open it himself.

A while back Leah said we should let him go down into the basement, and I couldn’t see any reason not to. So we started letting him and Chloe go down there when they wanted.

Our basement is currently a confused jumble of furniture, tools, insulation packs and boxes with unknown contents. It’s hard to get around down there. Just the kind of place cats might like to explore.

I went down one day a week or so ago and found that at least one cat was doing more than exploring. Some cat whose name is probably Smokey decided that the basement was a bathroom.

So the cats have been banned from the basement. Now Smokey passes the door and looks longingly at the door handle, remembering better days.

Smokey knows that the door handle has something to do with a door opening. We use levers rather than knobs. In the old house Sylvester learned to open doors with levers. Back when Leah kept Smokey and Sylvester overnight in the room we used as an office, I had to change the door lever to a knob to keep him from escaping. We had a basement with two separate levels accessed through doors that faced each other at the bottom of the stairs. I had to bungee the levers together to keep him out.

At this point we are fortunate that Smokey has not learned the trick of opening doors, and that Sylvester has not recognized the basement door as something he might want to open.