It’s a boy!

So maybe you will recall that after Bob (the feral cat that I thought was a boy, but was really a lady cat, and she had kittens and I got her fixed and now she’s chipped to me but roams the means streets of our hood), Bob 2 showed up.  Bob 2 looked so much like Bob one that I didn’t even know they were different cats for a while. Then I realized that Bob 1 has two eye patches and Bob 2 has one.

Cat math is hard.

I am pretty certain that Bob 2 is the child of Bob 1. When we trapped Bob 1, we were not sure if all her kittens were accounted for. I have been feeding Bob 2 for about six months.

So recently Bob 2 was trapped (accidentally when we were trying to trap my friend’s missing cat). Since I have been feeding Bob 2, I claimed him/her and s/he went to the vet for the snip, snip.  Obviously by the title of this post you can figure out that Bob 2 is a boy! We didn’t know this until the vet was able to take a looksy.

He was chipped to me, released back into my yard and he comes to eat every morning and night again.

Also, I’m still deathly allergic to cats.

I have no idea what to call Bob 2. Here are some ideas, feel free to vote on one or add your suggestion and we will formally name him this weekend.

  • Bob 2
  • Bobb
  • Carl
  • Oreo
  • Poop (suggested by a six-year-old)
  • Sherry (same six-year-old)

If anyone is wondering what Doug thinks of Bob 2.  He hates him. He barks viciously and rams the window when he hears him meowing.  That said, if Doug ever comes face-to-face with Bob 2, he would paws-up surrender and cry and jump into my arms for safety.

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Letters from Heaven. Letter three.

Hey Doug, it’s me, Jake.  How’s it hanging homey?

Your legs seem to be doing better. Only one dog can own wonkalicious and that is me, brother.  You’re going to have to get your own nickname. I was thinking you could own zoomiezombie!

I have been sending you some high fives from Heaven.  You try to chase birds, in flight!  Dude, you are awesome! You run, while they fly, and then you ram into the fence.  Hahahahahaha – oh brother, I really wish I was there with you, we would destroy those birds.

I also really, really, really appreciate how viciously you bark at Bob #2.  I mean s/he runs when you ram up against the window at her/him.  You and I both know that you would crap yourself if s/he ever saw you without the protection of the window. But good for you brother, you make me proud.

We noticed that you are finally not a spaz in the big bed.  That bed has a really beautiful history of naps with her (she called them migraines but they were naps), we were starting to think you were going to darken our legacy, but you finally calmed the F down.

Things here are great. We miss her, a lot. We send her signals that we are there with her and she catches every single one. She is so smart. Melvin and her talk all the time. He says it is his joy and purpose, on earth and in Heaven, to be her guardian angel.  I love her too, but I keep pretty busy making sure this place stays bumpin! I greet all the new dogs like I own the place!

We added a few to our gang recently, Sally – I know how much you love her brother, she’s here and she’s doing great. She is my spirit animal. She and I will probably get married. She is just impossible not to love.  Massey is here, I used to fence fight him but come to find out, he’s a cool, chill dude. He’s running (he is so fast) and jumping and keeping an eye on his family. Guinness is here now. That dude is so awesome, like I secretly watch him so I can learn his moves. He’s still pretty focused on letting his mom know he’s ok and that he’s with his sisters. I have a feeling he and I will get leather gang vests at some point (Sally will totally get one too). Diamond just arrived. Corbin leapt over like six hundred dogs to meet her! She lived the longest of all of us and she said that despite all her years, all she recalls is the love over the last few years with her mom.

Hey Doug, that time of year is coming up, the dates when she found out that Melvin and I had cancer.  Those dates still haunt her a little.  She tries really hard to forget them, but she can’t, because they are linked to us. So on February 9th and March 3rd – be extra saucy or snuggly. Keep her mind focused on joy. We are counting you.  Don’t let me down bro.

We still have bets on you. You are such a wild card.  I think you will still turn out like me. Weird legs, troublemaker, badass.  But Melvin thinks you will be soulful, like him and Max (boring!).  Either way, we made a really great choice in sending you to her. We can tell you love her like we love her. And it’s ok that she loves you every bit as much as she loves us. Love is supposed to live on. We only want her happy and safe.

Ok brother, I gotta go, my peeps need me to start this day with some Jakey funk!  Keep chasing the birds, I’ll be right next to you, hoping you catch one!

Love,

Your hero mentor brother, Jakey.

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A few of my favorite things.

Christmas brought with it some awesome additions for the mudroom.  I actually took all the photos down in there and rearranged them to include some of the new stuff.  Here are a few of my favorite gifts:

Just in case there is any confusion who the treats are for. IMG_8126

New here are the ‘You, me, & the dog’ and the oh-so-perfect ‘Hello/goodbye’ gifts. IMG_8127

I got the super fun ‘make your own sign’ for my birthday and the other two pieces for Christmas. IMG_8129

This awesome leash hook! IMG_8131

This true statement – luckily Doug loves everyone. IMG_8133

I also got the bottom two in this photo.  Be still my heart.  The photo above them is a gift I got after Melvin died. It’s the outline of his body (nubbin tail and all) filled in with words I would say – both about him and to him.  IMG_8134

Doug got his own place.

You guys know I love the dogs. You also know that I love decorating.  While some argue that Doug’s 2017 jail cell time was hardest on him, I just want to remind everyone the visual assault I went through daily having to see that monstrous jail cell in the middle of the room. I mean sure, I get it, he was in pain and needed to stay still and I was there 24/7 to tend to his needs.  But some days, that jail cell, mocked me.

It hurt my soul. Real bad.

Of course that time is behind us now (please God, no more surgeries) and in 2018, I want tp add another dog. Me wanting another dog, and me being a planner, means I need to work on having two safe spaces for two different dogs. There are those who would say, put the new dog in the mudroom and just let Doug have run of the house. Uh, no. Those of you who would say that are clearly insane and not allowed to vote. Homeboy is not even close to being behaved enough to have run of the house. Not even run of the first floor.  Most days, I say a prayer for the poor mudroom when I leave.

Two safe spaces. The end.

I need to find a spot for Doug (or the new dog) so that I can free up the mudroom (or keep Doug in the mudroom). Clearly you can see I am not sure which dog will go where since currently, only one of those dogs is here and I’ll need to see size and needs of the, at this point, imaginary second dog.

I do not recall how I became aware of Ginny Bins.  I think Instagram recommended me to her page and well Instagram gets me so I checked it out. She makes, in addition to so many other things, custom dog crates. I loved her work but I was hesitant to reach out because her crates were a bit more traditional and/or rustic and I although I realllllllly wanted one, I couldn’t see any of them working with my decorating style.

Around November, I reached out to her (the most awesome Ginny of Ginny Bins ) and I said: hey awesome Ginny-lady, your crates are amazing!  Just one teeny tiny thing, they are a little rustic for me, I like a more modern decor, do you think you could make one that is equally awesome but more the style of my house?

She said yes!

Ginny was a dream to work with and her and her husband hand delivered the crate over the holiday break. There are honestly, VERY FEW THINGS I would allow to take up visual space in the house (from a decorating statndpoint) and this is abosultely one of them.

Some of you have seen it in some of our recent Instagram stories. It’s amazing!

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I thought I was going to have to train Doug to go into it.  I figured we’d take a few weeks to get him comfortable being in it.  The day it arrived, he walked in and took a nap.

Ok, well that was easy.

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This thing is magical. Doug opts to nap in it. WHEN I’M HOME!  It’s also in a great spot. He no loner feels he has to follow me every step I take because he can pretty much keep track of me from all the views of his new digs.

I have yet to shut the door on it (with him inside).  I will also need to relocate the WiFi extender since he will 100% try to remove it from the plug and likely be electroctued.

On days I go into the office, Doug gets 2, half-hour walks, and those walk would probably increase with another dog, so I am not terribly worried about him being in the crate when I’m gone (once we add another dog). Also, one day, maybe, I’m not sure but I hope, I think, probably, althought not for sure but maybe, just maybe, that, perhaps, he will have run of the house, first floor.

For now, he has a condo, and a mudroom and we’ll see where this second dog idea goes. Go check out Ginny Bins (site and social media)! Tell them Doug sent you!

Bob. Take two.

I don’t even know where to start this update.

Bob, the cat that I named before I knew HER gender, is my (well is she really anyones?) feral cat. You’ll recall she was trapped this past spring and I got her fixed at my vet. I put food out for her every night and on occasion we’d run into each other and she’d hiss at me.

I would see Bob around here and there, but never consistently.  Until a month or two ago, when I’d see her every day and the food bowl would be empty each night.

The other day, I got a good look at her and well…now I think there are two Bobs. The new Bob, which I call Bob #2 looks exactly like Bob #1 except that Bob #1 has two eye patches and Bob #2 only has one. Clearly, the numbering of Bob and her eye patches could use some work.

I have heard that good food can change a cat’s coat and coloring but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it cannot erase an eye patch.

I do not know where my life with Bob #1 ended and my life with Bob #2 began. I also, again, do not know Bob #2’s gender.

I’m more than a little worried about Bob #1.

When we trapped the original Bob, it was suspected that she had more kittens than what we found on my neighbors porch. It was likely (unfortunately) that she got trapped before all her kittens were accounted for. My guess is, this may be one of Bob’s kittens.

I do not have any plans to trap Bob #2. I really hope she is a dude.  And gay. (no babies down this path in case you cannot keep up with my logic).

Regardless.  Bob #2 is eating great food, has a condo in my driveway and Doug hates her/him so they are definitely siblings also.

The universe can stop sending me cats at any time now.

The odd couple.

A couple of friends and readers have lost their dogs recently.  The most asked question in my inbox is along the lines of:

How I got through losing Melvin or how I get through without him. And/or, how did I survive losing Melvin and Jake, back to back.

I don’t cry everyday anymore. Every so often, something will pop into my mind and the joy I feel for that memory will overwhelm me and I’ll have to stop what I’m doing and let some tears flow. I still stay goodnight to Melvin and Jake every night, but long gone are the days when I cry myself to sleep. Everyday, there is a beautiful reminder of them.  Sometimes its Doug doing something one of them would totally of done.  Sometimes its Doug being terrible and I remember how Jake used to leap off the couch onto Melvin’s head.  Sometimes, the blanket at the foot of the bed feels a little heavier over my feet, and I pretend it’s Melvin. Sometimes the reminders are obvious, sometimes I have to look a little harder to find the joy. No one said joy is always easy.

I had a moment on New Years day when I realized I can no longer say that Jake died ‘last year’. Time is both an enemy and a friend.

The answer to how I got through, starts at Melvin.

Melvin was the one thing that was supposed to happen to me in this life. The one thing that would drive who I was to become. It’s not to say my life before him wasn’t spectacular or without meaning.  My life before him was wonderful preparation. For all the joy that was about to explode in my heart.

Melvin made me a better person. He pointed me in the right direction. He taught me to choose joy, to have patience, to make kindness reign supreme. He taught me love. The type of love that requires that we take action, to make life easier for others. To love, even when it requires forgiveness. To choose joy, over all other things.

At some point, Melvin became Melvin and Jake. Jake became Melvin’s plus one. Eventually, there was no,  just Melvin.  At that point, it was impossible to have one without the other.  Especially, when Melvin died.

Melvin’s love lived on in both Jake and I. Jake became my beautiful link to Melvin. We had to learn to reach for joy through our grief. As for Jake dying a year after Melvin, well that was pretty much the universe sucking and being as hurtful as possible and there were some dark moments and I screamed and threw my fists (and a lot of karate kicks) at joy.  Then Doug’s face showed up on Facebook, and he disrupted the sadness. Sometimes joy shows up in disguise and you must have faith it will work out. Even when it’s trying to eat your feet.

I carry Melvin and Jake in my heart. Melvin is still with me, guiding me. Reminding me that joy is what I make of it. Reminding me of how much patience he had with Jake, at the exact moment Doug is driving me nuts. And Jake is the reason that when Doug had back to back surgeries, I didn’t stay in a ‘poor Doug’ state.  I was thankful we had what we needed to make it through. And we did. Jake moves me forward.

I got through losing Melvin, because of Melvin and Jake. I got through losing Jake, because of Melvin and Jake. I love them more today than I did yesterday. I feel closer to both of them (Melvin especially), right now than I ever have. Life put them into my life when it just as easily could have put them somewhere else. We found each other and that is where our story starts.  As for where it ends, well it doesn’t.

Love lives on.

Merry and Happy.

The holidays can be lovely, joy filled, and happy.  They can also be challenging, lonely, and heartbreaking.

I always say that best part about any holiday is who you share your couch with.  Sometimes, the couch is full.  Inevitably, someone is missing.

We understand.

This will be our third Christmas without Melvin, and the second without Jake. There are a few tears when I put their ornaments on the tree, but at this point, I’m mostly just grateful that they are both in my heart and that every beat is a chance for me to seek and spread joy in their memory.  Despite their physical absence, I’m blessed to still have a full couch.

Love lives on. But it is not always an easy journey.

We wish you all much love and much laughter this holiday season. To anyone who is dreading the holidays or too sad to celebrate, we send you love and hugs. We’ll hold a spot for you, just in case.

xoxo, Tracey & Doug

PS: If you are wondering what Doug thinks of Christmas, just check out his expression on our card.  It’s the ho-ho-ho version of  F-you.

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