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Critter-Sittin’

This weekend I took some time out of my box-packing schedule to house-sit for my Aunt and Uncle.  They’ve both been dreadfully unwell the last couple of years and my poor cousin has been run ragged looking after them and making sure they’re ok.  She lives several hundred kilometres away so she is forever travelling to and fro to take them to medical appointments and make sure they’re looked after etc.  Every week she drives over 300km both ways to stay with them.  It’s been a very stressful time for all concerned.

Anyway, my cousin decided it would do everyone some good if she arranged a little weekend getaway, now that my Aunt and Uncle were well enough to travel.  My Aunt, though elderly and not in very good health at all, is a very outgoing lady and not one for sitting around doing nothing.  After a long period of recovery from a very serious illness she is pretty much going stir crazy, just being at home and having to “take it easy” all the time.  So a trip away, just for a couple of days, would be just what the doctor ordered.

My Mum and I happily agreed to house-sit for them.  Although I had SO MUCH packing and organising to do at home, it was actually a nice break from all that and gave me some much needed down time.  My Aunt and Uncle have three lovely furry family members – Heidi, a tricolour Rough Collie, Sox, a black and white moggie, and Fibber, a white pony – and so, of course, they were the main priority.  Heidi is an absolute delight – she is loving and gentle, but also fun and playful (she has the biggest box of toys I have ever seen!) and she is a great companion.  She’s pretty happy to just stay by your side most of the time and doesn’t ask for much, other than a few bouts of tug-o-war or “rub my belly”.

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Sox has always been a bit of a devil child – very wild and bad tempered – but she has mellowed a lot in the last couple of years and is now very placid and will give you a smooch if she’s in the right mood.  She makes me laugh because she actually asks to be put to bed at night.  Come 6pm and she meows and gets you to follow her to her “bedroom” (the laundry) where she has every mod-con available, including a cosy bed inside the linen cupboard.  She gets fed, you close the door, and that’s her done for the night.  In the morning, you let her out but she takes her time actually getting up and isn’t in any hurry to rise and shine.  She has the most amazing, upside-down, heart-shaped markings on her face/muzzle.  So pretty!  I’m glad she’s settled down too, because I don’t like to think of her being ill-mannered with my Aunt and Uncle.  She apparently even had a lap the other night with my Uncle, which was a first!

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Fibber is a gentle little pony with a nice temperament.  She unfortunately has laminitis , which is an inflammation of the soft tissue structures that attach the coffin or pedal bone of the foot to the hoof wall.  Very nasty, painful, and can be fatal.  Proper management is essential.  Fibber’s diet is very strict (over-feeding can often result in laminitis) and she is stabled in deep sawdust to give her a comfortable standing position.  Care of her hooves is obviously very important and she has a regular farrier who makes sure her tootsies are in tip-top condition.  She wears little covers over her hooves that help to protect the damaged parts and she is not lame or suffering at the moment.  She put up with my fumbling efforts at putting her covers on at night and whinnied at me across the paddock when I was bringing her food bucket.  Last night was quite stormy and so she was a bit nervous and jittery, but I managed to get her settled and comfy in her stable with her dinner and a warm coat.

She’s actually going to be moving down to the coast, to stay at my other cousin’s equestrian centre.  I think it will be good for her – she will have more company and my Aunt and Uncle will know she’s being cared for.  Her little stable has already been built – it’s really just waiting for when my Aunt and Uncle can bear to say Goodbye to her.  They themselves might be moving to be nearer to my cousin, so it won’t be Goodbye forever, and at least Fibber isn’t going to live with strangers and have an uncertain future.

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So, a nice, relaxing weekend, albeit with extra responsibilities (which I didn’t mind at all).  I am so looking forward to getting my own cats – I have missed being a “proper” animal person.  Having grown up with so many animals around me, I’ve felt like a bit of a fraud the last few years, not having any pets at all, due to renting and ex-hubby being allergic to cat and dog fur.  Be prepared for many, many posts about cats and all things feline-related in the future!  You have been warned! 🙂

I hope my cousin, Aunt and Uncle had a lovely time away.  They’ve all had a rotten couple of years, health-wise, and I know my cousin is really struggling to keep everything together (why does one sibling always carry all the responsibilities?).  I’m glad I could help out, even just for a short time and I hope it gave them a much needed, well deserved break, and some respite from worrying about their health and life in general.

Have a happy day, everyone.  Take care of your four-footed family and friends 🙂

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A Cockatoo or Two

Just a quickie post today…

I’m really going to miss South Perth.  The River, the gardens, the greenery – just the general feel of the place and the lifestyle it allows.  I’m also going to miss the local wildlife – all the lovely birds and the occasional dolphin – and the happy dogs playing in the park.  I’ll miss the cafe strip (located so close to my house I can practically order a chai latte by yelling out my bedroom window) and the quiet neighbourhood where I go for my walks.

Yesterday I dragged myself out of the house to get some exercise, spurred on by a.) the sight of my thighs, and b.) the realisation that I soon won’t be able to walk around the River every day or play wildlife photographer with the local cockatoo population.

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The two main types of “cocky” in my neighbourhood are the pink and grey Galahs and the Corella.  Corellas are noisy and destructive little buggers and many councils have resorted to culling them to reduce their numbers.  The do indeed make a racket when they are in large groups and even one solo bird is enough to send you a bit deaf.  They’re cheeky little chappies though – quite comical and clown-like in their antics.  The South Perth foreshore is often covered in large flocks of them, interspersed with a few galahs.  Corellas tend to dig up the lawn areas, looking for tasty roots or bulbs, leaving lots of holes everywhere. They also “trim” tree branches, causing damage and leaving the tree vulnerable to fungus and insect attack.  Many of these birds have been introduced to Western Australia from other states so they’re actually foreign interlopers!

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I was able to get quite close to the galahs – they seem to be the braver of the two species (probably as many of them are either escaped “tame” birds or the offspring of) whereas the corellas kept a safe distance.  The galahs seemed to even pose for me, stopping what they were doing for a few seconds while I snapped a shot or two.

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Hopefully, wherever I end up moving to, I will be able to find some nice parkland areas or other places where there is wildlife to discover.  Because I need all the incentive I can get when it comes to exercise.

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I plan on planting lots of natives in my new garden-which-isn’t-a-garden-yet so that I can attract the local birds.  I will be getting myself some cats (it will be my reward for all the crap I have gone through with the purchasing process to finally have some moggies) but they will be indoor felines – no hunting for them.  Part of the reason I wanted a two-storey house was so they would have stairs to run up and down.  I might join them – we shall have buns of steel together! 🙂

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Hope you are having a happy day – enjoy some time outside, if you can x

Mum’s Garden

Mum’s Garden

A rainy, Wintery weekend just went by.  As much as I hate the cold, I do love the look of raindrops on leaves and frost on the grass, as long as I’m looking at from inside a nice warm house.  I spent some time at my Mum’s on the weekend and took a few snaps of plants and flowers (and critters!) in her garden.  It is really coming along and starting to look a lot more lush and inviting.  She loves her garden and it was hard to leave her previous one behind when she moved to the new house.  So she’s been working hard to get the new one up to scratch.  The front garden is mostly hardy natives which are drought-tolerant and don’t mind full sun.  The back garden is still a work-in-progress and that will feature more traditional, cottage-garden beds and plants.  She’s getting rid of the lawn as it is hard to maintain and needs way too much water.  Better to have mulched garden beds that will require less water and upkeep.  She’s enjoying all the planning and working with a landscape gardener to get it just so.  She’s only a pensioner, so things are being done on a budget and corners cut wherever possible.

For what it’s worth, I have been busy with my little garden too – re-potting all my succulents and cacti, propagating new plants and clearing away the bedraggled old ones that have seen better days.  My path is lined with succulents now and the colours are amazing.  You can almost hear them saying “Ahhh…” as they relax in their newer, larger pots.  Some of them had become quite root bound, poor things. Anyway, more on my garden later.  For now, enjoy a few colourful photos of various plants and flowers in Mum’s garden 🙂

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So pretty! The raindrops look like jewels on these colourful leaves…

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Poinsettia…

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Kalanchoe, ready to bloom…

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Begonia…

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Salvia (such a beautiful blue)…

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So many bees happily harvesting pollen from a lemon tree…

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Geranium…

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“Joey” – don’t ask me the proper name….

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(Neighbour’s cat, photo-bombing!)

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(Mole Cricket.  Dead unfortunately, poor little guy.  He made a tasty meal for the ants though…)

Goodbye Sweet Boy(o)

Goodbye Sweet Boy(o)

A sad weekend this one.  My Mum and I had to make the difficult decision to have our beloved Alexander (Boyo) put to sleep.  He had developed cancer in the roof of his mouth which was spreading to his nasal passage and sinus area, and behind his eyes.  He also had a newly-diagnosed thyroid problem and a heart murmur.  It broke our hearts.  He has been such a special little man, seeing us through times of sorrow and stress, never bad-tempered or spiteful and always loving and gentle.  He has lived with my Mum for the past 7 years so, although he is technically “mine”, she is devastated to have lost her companion.  She stayed with me all weekend so she didn’t have to go home to an “empty” house.

Boyo’s health had declined quite rapidly over a short space of time and, although he was not depressed or miserable in himself, he had lost all his energy and “zest”.  He slept a lot and wasn’t eating, despite us buying him every tempting treat we could think of.  He had lost a lot of weight and, we believe, was starting to feel uncomfortable with the cancer (we imagine he was getting little feline headaches and at least feeling a pressure in his head and sinus).  Although we couldn’t bear to lose him, we couldn’t stand to see him suffer and would not allow that to happen.  We made the decision to say Goodbye to him on Friday night.  The vet was so good, quick and efficient but caring too.  She gave him a quick sedation to relax him and he basically fell asleep in our arms while she administered the fatal dose.  There was no pain or fear, no struggling or distress.  It all happened so quickly and quietly that it was almost a lovely experience.  I think it helped my Mum a lot, though she was absolutely distraught and guilt-ridden.  We stayed in the room with him, crying and cuddling him until we were ready to say Goodbye forever.  He looked so peaceful and serene and beautiful.  I am glad we chose to do it now, rather than allow him to carry on getting sicker and weaker, out of selfishness and inability to let go.  He had given us so much joy and love over his (almost) 18 years of life, the least we could do was release him from any further pain or suffering, allowing him to go peacefully and while he was still “himself”.

I will miss him so much – he was a truly special cat.  I had hand-reared him from a 4 day old kitten who had lost his mother, so I really do think of him as my baby.

We used to say he had invisible angel wings (because he was so graceful when he leapt and jumped) – now he has them for real.

RIP Boyo – we love you and will miss you forever, until we get to see you again x

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My Weekend (in Instagram)

My Weekend (in Instagram)

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day!

Beautiful weather indeed on the weekend – blue skies and sunshine all round.  I got my washing done and dried, and soaked up some of that sunshine myself, here and there, when I wasn’t busily trying to organise my house in to some semblance of neatness.  I had my new couch delivered the weekend before and it was still sitting in the same place it had been dumped on delivery, so it was time to get it positioned properly and set up so I could actually lounge about and be a lady of leisure ha ha.  Forgot how nice it is to have a big couch to stretch out on.  My other new couch is nice enough but so tiny and not conducive to comfy relaxing.  I’ve been sitting on the floor to watch TV.  But now I can relax in style and comfort and I can also have more than one friend over at a time (exciting!).  Anyway, place to put feet up – check!  (and thank you to my friend GT who very kindly put the couch legs on for me – pesky things were very difficult to attach and needed drill-work which I was not game to try, knowing what a klutzoid I am).

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On Saturday I went op-shopping with the ever-so-lovely CW.  We did some intense fossicking for an hour or so at a couple of op-shops and picked up a few bargains.  But we flagged very early on and decided to retire to a nearby coffee shop for lunch.  And there we stayed…no more op-shopping was done that day.  Turns out what we really needed to do was talk and catch up and right the wrongs of the world over cups of tea and possibly some cheesecake…gooey caramel and butterscotch cheesecake to be precise.  It was low in fat because we shared a piece ha ha.  That works, right?  I was glad to have found a few great buys in the op-shops so I didn’t feel disappointed that we cut the day a bit shorter than expected.
And talking with a good friend always trumps everything else.

I managed to pick up this great bulk pack of wooden beads (on about 40-50 necklaces and bracelets) in varying colours and shapes) for only $3.25!  I was pretty happy with that.  I often use wooden beads as fillers and now I am set for a while 🙂

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I also go this cute little beaded top for $3.50.  It looks brand new (it’s knitted but there are no pulls or holes, no missing beads etc) and is such a pretty colour.  Too cool at this time of year to wear it but it will be nice for Summer.

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I found this pretty little dish as well for only $2.00.  I think it’s vintage… I tell myself it is anyway.  I like blue and white so what do I care if it’s old or not?  I just liked the pattern and the condition (which is great – no chips or anything). (Just looked it up on a few sites…seems to be 1960s-era thereabouts…)

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As the weather was so nice, I walked around outside for a bit in the afternoon and took some photos.  My neighbour’s garden is once again ridiculously beautiful.  Look at all those tulips!

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My garden, at least at the front, is looking pretty good too.  This is because we have a gardener in the complex who comes and tidies things up, manages the sprinkler system etc.  If it was up to me, it would be half-dead and terribly untidy.  So, at least the entry to my house looks nice – lovely pink azaleas and some succulents, daisies and other greenery.  The azaleas make a lovely cut flower – I didn’t realise they would be so robust once cut, but they stay happily in a vase for a few days easily.

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Speaking of flowers in vases…someone at work left me a little posy of Geraldton Wax on my desk on Friday.  Very sweet 🙂

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The complex has a resident willy-wagtail who warbles all night long in his constant search for a lady friend.  He is quite brave and you can get very close to him.  He let me take a few photos as he hopped about, showing off his waggly tail
and bug-catching abilities.

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On Sunday morning I went for a lively walk with a friend, SS, from work, and her two fur-babies Sam and Chloe.  It’s been such a long time since I have had a dog to walk.  I miss having my own pooch 😦  But still, borrowing one for an hour or so is nice too and we had an energetic but not too strenuous walk along the river.  A good start to the day.

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Having exercised somewhat I then felt it necessary to bake cookies, as you do.  My oven died in the week so I have not had it for a few days (including the days I needed it to bake for the RSPCA cupcake fundraising day…thank goodness for mothers and their ovens!) so of course, I needed to christen the new element by baking a batch of cookies.  Goes without saying, obviously!  I was hoping the whole oven would be kaput so I might get a brand new one, but, alas, it was just the element that needed replacing.  Anyway, it is good to have it working again.  I don’t fry things so I was a bit lost without it. And now I have a jar full of oatmeal cookies to munch on…

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I did attempt to finally get all my books alphabetised this weekend but gave up half way through.  I’m up to “L”and it will probably stay that way for some time… I got fed up with remembering the alphabet sequence ha ha…(some librarian I am!).  I’ll continue on, bit by bit instead of tackling it all at once.  I am determined to have my home looking nice and “put-together” and stylish by the end of the year.  I want it to look like a grown-up lives there.  Or, at least, a part-time grown-up…

Hope your weekend was sunny and happy 🙂

Dog and Cat Tails

Dog and Cat Tails

I miss having stories.  When I was a vet nurse I had interesting stories to tell and experiences to share.  I had tales of midnight emergencies and specialist surgeries, strange cases and funny ones too (removing a pair of men’s underpants from the intestines of a dog was always tricky – sometimes the offending article did not belong to the man of the house and that was always an awkward moment).  Even my injuries were interesting, ranging from an almost fractured kneecap when I dropped an Xray box on to it, to dog bites and scalpel cuts and various other surgical mishaps.  I once almost gave myself a flip-top thumb whilst removing a scalpel blade carelessly from its holder.  Ouch.  I’ve been stabbed with needles meant for the patient (cue yet another tetanus injection for me), had a nasty case of ringworm , been left bruised and battered by over-exuberant staffies (I love them, but God almighty they’re nuts) and left scarred for life by feral cats.

I was lucky in the dog-bite category.  I only had a couple in my decade-long nursing career and even one of those was an accident :  my arm just happened to get in the way of an in-pain German Shepherd who was just snapping at the sedation injection I was giving her.  My arm blew up into one massive haematoma and I was disappointed the swelling only lasted a couple of days before I could really show it off to anyone.

With people I am a coward.  I have no courage where human beings are concerned – they scare me and I don’t understand them.  Animals?  Piece of cake.  They make sense to me and I understand them and their basic behaviours and needs.  I prided myself on being able to make friends with nasty dogs and cats alike.  And if not succeeding in becoming a bosom buddy, I could at least gain enough trust that they wouldn’t try to eat my face off.  Which is always a bonus, let’s be honest.  We did have one dog I was mortally afraid of – a Scottish Terrier named Monty.  He was nasty.  He would strike fear into all our hearts as we prayed that we would not be the one to prepare him for surgery.  I could not, whatever I tried, make him like me.  He would go for the throat if he could,  but, being only a foot or so high, would generally go for the legs and ankles.  You could not take your eye off him for a second – he would have you.  Now, you may think Oh, little scotty dogs are so cute! They couldn’t hurt anyone!, but let me tell you, my friend, how very wrong you are.  Scottish Terriers may be small but they have the tenacity and (unfortunately) jaw size of a much larger dog.  Their jaws are as powerful as a  German Shepherd and their teeth just as large.  Not fun when you combine that with the strength and killer attitude of Attila the Hun.  Of course, not all scotties are like that, but Monty, bless him, was vicious.  We always treated him well and didn’t care for him any less than we should, but we were always glad to see the back of him – hopefully with no necessary follow-up appointments.

Some of the bigger dogs were also a handful.  Bear, a particularly unpleasant Rottweiler was a bit of a nightmare.  Though not a large Rotty (thank goodness), he was still big enough to do damage and serious damage at that.  He was kept permanently muzzled – there was no other way to stay safe around him.  I was usually the one called upon to help with sedating him fro surgery, a role that meant basically sitting on him, legs straddled around his head so he couldn’t turn to bite the injector at the side of him.  Fun times.  But still, he was no competition for Monty.

Cats could also pose a problem because they were more difficult to handle if aggressive and had extra weapons (ie teeth AND claws).  You can’t successfully muzzle a cat and they are strong and feisty when upset.  And claws and teeth HURT.  AND get infected and scar.  Speed is the name of the game when dealing with cats as they get cranky pretty quickly and the longer you handle them, the more agitated they get, which is fair enough.

One charming kitty we had to deal with (not regularly, thank goodness!) was called, not very imaginatively, “Puss”.  He was, to be frank, a psycho.  So much so that his owners had to bring him in to the clinic in a hessian sack.  There was no handling of Puss.  Touch him and you would lose a finger.  I’m afraid we had to almost shut his head in a cupboard once in order to inject him with sedative…this was an accidental method – not really the ethically recommended way of doing things.  Puss lived to a comfortable old age and (thankfully for us) did not get sick very often.  He lived with an ex-clinic cat of ours, a beautiful Russian Blue called Clouseau who was as delightful as Puss was dreadful.

In amongst the day-to-day, ordinary, bread-and-butter type cases, we also had lots of interesting patients, injuries and clients:

  • The little dog who needed intricate surgery to rebuild his ribcage after it was shattered during a savage dog attack.  That was interesting enough on its own but, to add to the story, when we clipped him up to prepare for surgery, we realised he was missing an eye, and obviously had been for several years.  The owners were completely unaware and had no idea what happened to the eye.
  • The gorgeous Border Collie Max who, also injured badly in an attack, was near death and almost lost a leg (it was almost ripped clean off).  The damage to his body was so severe and extensive, that his skin began dying off and he had to undergo surgery and skin grafts almost every day to repair the wounds and regrow the skin.  He had to wear a full body stocking and be carried everywhere to toilet and eat.  He remained with us for over a month and as he got steadily happier and healthier, he became a bit of a handful.  But I think we were all glad of that – he was returning to his former self and was obviously responding well to all the care and attention.
  • The unfortunate pooch who decided jumping on a lawn mower whilst it was being used was a good idea.  He was lucky to only lose three toes.
  • The gorgeous ginger tom who was admitted with a serious case of pyothorax (a bacterial infection in the chest cavity) who had to submit to daily treatment – the insertion of a surgical “tap” so we could drain off the pus and fluid filling his chest.  The most beautiful, well-natured feline in history – he never complained, never scratched or bit anyone despite being in pain and having to undergo such unpleasant treatment every day, without anaesthetic (because it would be too risky in his condition).
  • The Koala with cataracts.
  • The canine bowel obstructions caused by swallowed bones (full-sized), tennis balls (whole), squash balls, metres of elastic, bras, socks, corn cobs and other paraphernalia.
  • The amputees and the pregnant mummies, the over-sized tumours and the late-night emergency calls to treat Fido who’d consumed entire boxes of snail pellets or birth control pills or condoms.
  • The abandoned kittens and the neglected puppies.
  • The wounded kangaroos and the injured and lost baby birds.
  • The vomiting vets (allergic to anaesthetic fumes) and the fainting nurses, the hysterical clients and the annoying ones, the men who would sob at the loss of their beloved “mate” and the children who would watch stoically as their lifelong companion fought for his or her life.

There were so many wonderful animals and the people who loved them.  I won’t go into the people who didn’t fall into this category – the neglectful ones, the down-right abusive ones and the ones who had no business owning an animal or being anywhere near one.  Cruelty to animals is something I do not understand and cannot bear.

 So I miss having tales to tell and being around animals as much as I was.  I loved my extended four-legged family and came to know some of them as well as my own pets.  I celebrated their successes and return to health and mourned their passing when the time came.  I never begrudged the blood or the muck, the endless sweeping and mopping of hairy floors or the constant changing of newspaper in the kennels.  I stood in the rain with dogs on leads, waiting patiently for a cocked leg or a dainty squat.  I welcomed newborns into the world and said goodbye to the elderly friends whose life had become a struggle and the only thing left to do was grant them peace and to do so with love and dignity.  Although euthanasia was always sad, I also looked at it as a blessing – the final loving gesture that could rid a life of pain.

 The job was stressful and, at times, difficult to deal with, but I will always remember the characters I met and the wonderful people who cared for them.  It made me hug my own animals a little bit tighter and pray for their continued good health (vet nurses are the worst – we know what can go wrong and every sign and symptom foretells death and doom).

I miss having any pets (I have never liked saying “pets” – it seems disrespectful, but “animals” seems too distant and clinical) and I hope to one day have a menagerie again.  In the meantime I pay special attention to our office dog and make friends with neighbourhood cats, watch the local waterbirds and listen intently to friends’ tales of their furry family member’s antics.  If you are lucky enough to be blessed with a four-legged, furred, feathered, scaled or hoofed friend, may you get to enjoy their company for many years and share lots of happy times together.  Give them a cuddle from me.

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