Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Cats (and Unwed Mothers)

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Professor Higgins

I have visited this theme before over the past few years of writing this blog.

In our 25 years together, Alistair and I have shared our homes with, cared for, and loved 22 cats.

22. Cats.

I would have fallen over in laughter if you would have told me, as a kid, that I would someday be a Crazy Cat Lady but there you  have it.

I can’t blame being a veterinarian for how we ended up with so many feline Fyfe companions. Oh, sure, our cross-eyed, lilac-point Siamese senior, Mae Mae was a euthanasia-turned-hyperthyroid surrender but the majority of our cat buddies have settled into Fyfe Life through a variety of other means.

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Pretty little Mae Mae

Koshka, our first cat, was placed on my lap by a very young Gareth and Whitney back in 1995 and thus began my new life as a cat lover. Malchek joined her by just showing up at our house in Watford City and suddenly we were a “multiple cat household.”

Friends would have litters and we’d take one or two (or the entire litter) because we always had farmland and with farmland you always have mice. Besides, when you’re feeding 3 or 4 cats, what’s one more?

Back to Canada with Koshka, Malchek, Oscar, Boomer & Garter in 1996, then back to North Dakota with Oscar, Boomer, Chorney & Cooper in 1997.

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Cooper, Boom-Boom and Oscar a few years ago

We always suspected that our farm in Bismarck was/is a great place for drop-off kitties. Scruffy and sassy young Mulder arrived there out of the blue, just like our little Tuxedo cat, Jinxie did.

Mamma Cat showed up complete with a belly full of kitties but she actually hung around for a year and produced a second belly full of kitties. We had kept the first ones but managed to re-home all but one of the second litter.

Sport was actually given to us by one of Alistair’s nurses as her new husband was allergic. HRH Sporto even got to move to Saskatoon with Cooper and me for my four years of vet school!

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Drs Cory, Pat, Nate and Tan with our co-editor, Sport working on an edition of the TOOL newsletter in Saskatoon in 2004

So it was that Oscar, Boomer, Chorney, Cooper, Mulder, Sport, Jinx, Bebe, Hissy Phitt Georgia and Mouse made the move to our house in Montana at the very beginning of 2007. Of those, Sport, at 19, and Bebe, at 16 remain. (2015 and 2016 were two tough years we renamed Attrition… it was hard on the canine, ferret and guinea pig populations on the Fyfe Farm, too. Grab a box of Kleenex and go through some old blogs from back then if you have a hankering for a good cry.)

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Mulder in Bismarck back in the day

While we were moving from one sad departure to another during Attrition, we both had the silly notion that we were going to be animal-less for a few years.

We would be free to travel at a moment’s notice!

Imagine the money we’d save!

No more heartache!

Until Alistair was in the hot tub in Bismarck one night talking with me on the phone when a fairly well-fed tabby cat waltzed up to the tub and proceeded to mew at him. He continued mewing post-hot tub and then sauntered on into the house without much coaxing soon afterwards.

We called veterinary clinics, shelters and neighbors but nobody knew whose friendly cat this was so a couple of weeks later, Professor Higgins joined us here in Montana.

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Professor Higgins and I in the barn this winter.

Higgins stays outside with Jockey for now. Seasoned Crazy Cat Ladies know that its unwise to introduce new cats who have all of their claws to the senior cats who are minus their foreclaws.

And Santa Alistair re-introduced ferrets into Fyfe Life but if you’ve followed along here or on Facebook you already know that.

What got me going on this today is the new stray that has been hanging around our farm in Bismarck this spring and summer.

We’ve caught magical glimpses of him/her that are becoming more and more prolonged as time goes on because we’ve been providing dry and moist cat food for him/her since the spring.

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Last week- lingering longer and longer.

Basically, we don’t see the cat. I say “we” because I was back there this summer and I did see her through the window of our front door but it was fleeting at best. Primarily its Alistair doing the ground work to try to tame this little lion.

So he tries to keep a bowl of Science Diet dry food topped up in the barn where the kitty lives and a smaller bowl up by the front steps here plus he adds a tin of soft food daily which is how he’s trying to coax the stranger up to him.

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Someone really wants this fresh tin of soft food but someone knows Alistair is immediately behind the door….

Weeks ago the cat would never have come up this close knowing full well that the biped who provides the food (and dings the plate every single time hoping beyond hope for the eventual Pavlovian response that all of the Fyfe cats develop thanks to said dinging) is right behind the door.

Sometimes Alistair sits out on the step with the fresh tin of food and kitty (he calls him, Whitey…. I was hoping for Billy, or Billie if its female… you know, The Stranger… anyone? anyone?) is down by the barn watching him. He/she used to just run off at the sight of anyone but he is lingering more and more in hopes the biped will buzz off and let him eat his yummy tinned food alone.

This one night, though, Whitey decided the food was more important than fear or mistrust so Alistair got the best picture we have of our new friend yet!

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Whitey Fyfe?

As much of a big step as this was, it was nothing compared to what Whitey did only a couple of mornings later. Alistair went outside after a rainy night and found a present from our little red & white friend.

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A present from Whitey

Hey. This means they’re in a relationship, Alistair and Whitey.

I mean it. Cats don’t give presents to just anybody.

Kind of like that line in Dances With Wolves….  “Good. Trade.”

So it is that we remain Fyfe’s Farm for Wayward Cats and Unwed Mothers. Hopefully Whitey will try to trust Alistair more and more and hopefully he will keep working on limiting the rodent population that grew ever since all the other Fyfe felines moved to Montana.

It would be great if he is already altered, like Jinx and Professor Higgins were, but maybe he’s a scruffy tough guy like Mulder who hasn’t had much human care.

Regardless, he has a warm, dry barn to hang out in as long as he would like and we’ll keep making sure he has food.

And we’ll keep you all posted on the felines of the Fyfe farms along the way.

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Sporto a couple of nights ago

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Bebe, our resident Sunbeamer

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Jockey enjoying the winter sun… possibly a relative of Whitey’s?

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Babs and Sport on my lap a few nights ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Melancholy Moment

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Finally on our local golf course last week!

Normally, 99.999% of the time, this is me. Not the wine glass- that’s maybe 25% of the time and as much as I wish golf was 100% that isn’t the case, either. But I’m normally smiling, laughing, joking around and happy.

(As I type that I’m trying desperately to do the math to make sure I don’t sound like a flaming alcoholic… should that be 20%? 15% Will my friends laugh and think I underestimated?)

Driving home along muddy gravel roads with 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom potholes in the rain to a husband-less house on Friday, however, I had a moment of melancholy.

I had a few tears.

It wasn’t a pity party by any stretch. It actually had to do with some sadness.

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a couple of weeks ago before the golf course opened

I had done a house call that morning where I helped friends say goodbye to their special canine companion. It was necessary, it was an act of kindness and it was done for all the right reasons. It was also beautiful and peaceful if such an event can be.

It was Time.

But after having done this recently with a few other special canines I realized I have been the veterinarian in this community long enough that I have known these animals their entire lives. And now I’m saying sad goodbyes to some of them.

I was the Easy Cheese lady back when we did 3 sets of the distemper combo and handed out puppy kits.

I spayed and neutered them.

They were participants in my puppy parties.

And they came to the Dog Days of Summer every year.

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UB and Loki at one of the Dog days of Summer

While not all of the recent patients of the Angel of Darkness were puppies when I met them, they were still my patients for several years. It just felt kind of heavy and it all hit me at one specific moment yesterday.

The rainy, dark skies and the cooler temperatures after being teased with sunshine and golf games recently probably didn’t help.

I did allow myself time to think about and process each of the friends I had to help over the Rainbow Bridge and I think veterinarians just simply need to do this from time to time. Sure, I have all sorts of fabulous coping mechanisms- I keep a journal; I share my feelings here and with clients; I play golf; I laugh a LOT; I joke around a LOT; I have ferrets who I talk to in a variety of accents; I don’t take myself seriously; I have a tremendously understanding husband; I write; I have the Aloha hot tub with tiki torches; I drink wine; yadda, yadda….

But veterinarians have enough to worry about in this career that we need to be able to let ourselves emote, from time to time, about stuff that’s just plain sad.

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Fabulous Babulous

It probably also doesn’t help that I found what I believe to be an oral tumor in sweet Bebe’s mouth the other day. She’s fine, though, eating & drinking & bitching at us for her morning Greenies and everything is normal but Dr.Mummy knows its not right.

And she’s lost some weight.

And her hair coat is a bit poor.

But Mummy-me isn’t going to change a thing until Babs gives us a reason to.

Like my clients’ pets did.

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Getting ready for the Furry Scurry a few years ago

The noble Bernese Mountain Dog began limping enough that her parents knew the recently diagnosed bone cancer in her forelimb was taking over.

She walked less and less and started to eat a bit less.

I had done her puppy vaccines and spayed her and fixed her umbilical hernia. She was a puppy party participant and kind of just watched the goofy Labradors and goldens flying around the clinic (although she eventually gave in and played a bit, too.)

She attended Dog Days of Summers and did the Furry Scurry and she hiked in the mountains of Montana and played with her sister and swam in clear rivers and creeks and eventually accepted the newest little sister and she ate like a queen and she lounged outside her house and she loved the heck out of her dad and her new  mom and she was on the greatest adventure ever until it was Time.

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Another Furry Scurry getting ready to go!

Then there was the adorable, 16 year old Yorkie who made it pretty clear to his parents that it was Time. I knew him since I moved here and he and his canine siblings lived a lovely life with their parents. I got to see pictures of him in the basket of the 4-wheeler looking like he was the happiest big dog in a little dog’s body ever. His entire small community knew him and he even got to help out at the bar his folks owned a lot of the time.

I know a lot of hearts were broken when I helped him across the bridge with his mom and dad right there, holding him, rubbing him. Like his mom said, “It isn’t about us anymore, its about him.” It was Time.

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My Nan and the Princess, Cleopatra at a Dog Days of Summer many moons ago

My friends and I had known Sprocket’s time was coming because he was ancient. Most working sled dogs live a great, active life but they rarely make it to 15 years of age but this noble old athlete did and he did it was grace and style. Maybe not with the greatest hair coat in the world but he aged beautifully until he didn’t.

Sprocket was one of their competitive dogs who loved what he did. A Siberian Husky who I respected as both an athlete and a good dog, he started having trouble with his back legs recently. He would rally and we would stop checking to see if I was going to be in town and a few more weeks would pass.

Until the morning when the dog who had run his heart out and played with his yard mates and really liked his injectable anesthesia when he needed it and was one of the alligator bacteria patients years ago let his folks know they needed to come up to the farm for one final visit with Dr.Fyfe.

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Good times with good friends at a Dog Days of Summer

And Friday morning we laid the final dog of a litter of pups I was particularly close to to rest.

The beautiful litter of Great Dane puppies was in trouble from the start when their mom died within days of their birth. We knew it was a challenge to get enough groceries into such a rapid-growing breed but several members of the community were up to the task. It was daunting at best because without much immunity from not having their mom’s milk they couldn’t be exposed to many people so it was a small group who fed, cleaned, rested, and fed the puppies again. Most of the folks who were part of the feeding team became owners of these huge puppies and all but one stayed within our community.

My rep with Royal Canin happily consulted her team of nutritionists and those pups thrived on canned Recovery and wow, what a gorgeous group of dogs they turned into.

On April 22nd, 2009, my surgeon friend from Great Falls came by and he helped me spay and gastropexy the three females, which I had never done before. The three giants laid in a blanketed assembly line as they recovered and it was a pretty special day.

Until the curse of being a Great Dane took over and we lost the father and all of the other siblings over the years.

Generally they aren’t a long-lived breed but Bella made it to 10 years. Until Friday morning, when it was Time.

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Dog Show winners in the “Working Dog” class at one of our later Dog Days

Each and every family I cried with are friends. I’ve had coffees, lunch and supper dates and I’ve supported their buisnesses and I think most of them have read my books.

I counselled them about when to spay, what brand of foods to eat and I dispensed dewormers and did house calls and I sutured them up or took sutures out and I watched relationships grow and flourish even if there was some testing along the way and I shared the beginning, middle and now end of some beautiful lives with special people and their beloved companions and I know how very hard it was to make the decisions they made and I respect all of them for it while knowing how hard their hearts hurt.

Sometimes the making of the decision and acknowledging that it is Time is the hardest part of all. Or maybe its when I ask if my friends are ready… because they will truly never, ever be ready.

I am privileged to get to share the amazing human-animal bond that makes us choose to get another puppy and raise them and love them and care for and guide them through their magical lives as they become perfect middle-aged best friends until they gradually become beloved senior citizens.

My own heart gets wrung out every time we have had to make the decision to send our furry friends on their final adventure.

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Pretty little Bebe Fyfe

I hope I get to have more time to spend with Babs before its Time. Heck, Cleopatra, our Springer is at least 15 and is having her own set of issues. I’m trying not to think about it but I may have to face what Sitka, Danny, Sprocket and Bella’s parents all had to face just recently sooner rather than later.

And I’ll be okay.

Just like all of my friends will.

And every single other pet parent out there who has to face facts when you start making a list of all of the last things you’ll be doing with your buddy.

There are those coping mechanisms.

There is that magnificent hubby and many great friends.

And there is the knowledge that when the sadness is so great it means the love was that great as well.

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Local Coping Mechanism just opened the back 9 last week.

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One of the Furry Scurry’s along the highway in town!

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3 new Coping Mechanisms screwing around in Papa’s clean jeans.

 

The Time and In Between

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I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out, holding in….

These are song lyrics by another Canadian, Sarah McLachlan.

I’m not entirely sure why they came to mind as I laid in bed a few mornings ago but it struck me that it was, really, the perfect time of day for me.

In between sleep and in between my day unfolding. I gave it some thought.

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This has absolutely nothing to do with the blog but I like the memory from almost a year ago

With Cleo and Sport curled up in bed with me its the time I don’t think about their ages. I don’t see Cleo’s right hind leg slipping out from beneath her on the tile floor. I don’t watch her miss a stair or two more frequently than ever and I’m not thinking about the fact she is at least 14 years old.

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Cleopatra Cassiopeia Carrie Bradshaw Houdini Diamond Fyfe

I watch her sleep soundly in her completely-deaf world up high on her Daddy’s pillow and her breaths are comfortable, peaceful and even. I don’t have to think about her heart murmur, her arthritis, her cognitive dysfunction…

I am not reminded of the fact my beloved Siamese companion who is likely spooned up next to me with my arm draped around him is aging. He will be 19 years old in a few months but I don’t see his fragile frame because he is tight up against my body and his aging blue eyes are closed.

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HRH Sporto Fyfe

It is the time of day I haven’t been to the kitchen yet, where enormous, loud dehumidifiers hum and suck water from the walls that poured snow melt down their beams a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t walked through the wind tunnel created by equally obnoxious fans whirring away to dry out the walls that are wet from the cracked glass that is part of a one-year-plus insurance claim that continues to haunt us.

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my kitchen right now

I haven’t once again faced living with torn-apart walls and debris on my floors because I am lying in our bedroom on the other end of the house- a bedroom we were out of for almost a full year thanks to this claim.

It is a bedroom without a phone (by design) and its far enough away from the phones that when they do ring, we can’t hear them. So it is at this time of day that I don’t suck in my breath every time I hear it ring knowing Alistair is on his hours-long journey from Bismarck to Montana.

He calls at specific intervals, where he has cellular service, knowing I am worrying that day like I do every day, every 2 weeks, as I have done for the past 12 years.

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This guy!

He travels across the frozen plains and through a mountain pass on snowy, windy, often lonely roads and both of us know the length of time it takes to get from Circle to Jordan… from Great Falls to Lincoln… from phone call to phone call.

In that quiet time of day I have not yet caught of glimpse of myself in any mirror.

I haven’t had to look at the woman who is inching closer to 50 and pulling further and further from 40. I haven’t thought about belly fat or the bum knees that don’t allow me to run anymore. I haven’t washed or combed through my thinning, grey hair or wondered when my upper arms became so unattractive. I haven’t tried to squeeze into jeans that I swear fit fine just last year nor have I had to put on my reading glasses yet.

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Yeah. These.

I haven’t had the chance to look out any windows at that time of day to see just how wrong accuweather was the night before. I am blissfully unaware of the inches of snow that fell, or the ones that are still falling and I haven’t had to think about firing Big Red up for a few passes down the driveway.

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Big Red and I last winter

It is the time of day where I definitely haven’t checked my emails or read the texts alerting me to the fact individuals in Hawaii and in Vancouver have been trying to reach me to let me know my stepdaughter was in the ICU after having had an emergency the night prior that led to her requiring 10 units of blood and that things had been harrowing for the surgical team as they struggled to keep her tiny body alive.

I haven’t yet given any thought to the fact we could have lost Whitney and none of us was with her.

I haven’t yet thought about the emotional nightmare she would be going through along with the healing that would have to occur after the arduous ordeal she had survived.

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Just a few months ago on Kauai

I haven’t spent hours on the phone trying to get flights for her father to join her- flights that would take 2 full days and re-route him, if he wasn’t bumped, through San Francisco and Chicago.

I haven’t yet realized, in the time and in between, that I do have those motherly fears and worries and gut-wrenching anguish despite not having had given birth to my step kids.

And then I get up.

And I help Cleo off the bed and I watch Sport use the ottoman to assist himself.

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Miss Cleo, last spring

And I get Cleo her meds (wrapped in cheese) and I change the water dish (always adding ice cubes) and I get Bebe her Greenies because she is meowing at me to do so and I turn the fans off so I can at least think and I look at the calendar to see all of the obligations, responsibilities, meetings and planned events ahead.

I then I start to see the opportunities.

The adventures.

The next date Alistair will be coming home.

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Me

And I do see myself in the mirror and despite the odd wonky tooth and the increasingly- Eastern European-bloc eyebrows that I need to trim I’m actually okay with hurtling towards my 50s because I’m having fun being me.

I know the teeth aren’t perfect because I chose summer school skating over braces when I was younger.

I know the laugh lines and wrinkles are there from countless hours spent laughing with Alistair and our friends and our animal companions.

I know the grey hairs are earned after working hard at a few different careers and that I’m not going through puberty in spandex anymore so maybe its okay to buy a pair of jeans a size up.

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Working hard at my latest career on a beautiful summer day!

And I am so thankful that both Gareth and Whitney have pursued healthful lifestyles into their own 30s because Whitney’s physical strength helped her survive what easily could have taken her life. With 10 units of other peoples’ blood running through her to keep her alive her healthy organs kept doing what they needed to do to get her through that first night.

And the next night.

And the night after that.

Her mom was able to join her on Kauai (amazingly she was going there and was able to bump her flight up a few days) and her husband and in-laws surrounded her with love and support and we were able to talk via FaceTime and before we all knew it she was sent home from the hospital one week ago.

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Looking forward to this!

And I’m so thankful to have an amazing, talented, good man who loves me enough to keep driving 10 or 11 hours every 2 weeks to spend time with me. The same man who knows exactly how to make me laugh and who brought me 3 ferrets for Christmas, knowing they are the best present I could ever ask for! He shares my world view and he gets the jokes. We crack each other up quoting lines from Frasier or bringing Spirt of Loki into the conversation.

We cherish cocktails in the snow-surrounded hot tub with the tiki torches blazing and Hawaiian music serenading us from inside the house.

He has let me love him for 25 years this month and I don’t know what I would do without him.

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Best Christmas presents ever!!!

And even though the insurance claim woes continue, I still have a stunningly lovely house in an absolutely incredible part of the world with vaulted ceilings, the coolest bar in town and room for me to be me.

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Early winter in Paradise

I will have to face a world without beloved spirits at some point and as Dr. Mummy I may even have to have a talk with myself somewhere down the road.

But that time isn’t here yet.

And Alistair is back with me in Montana. Plowing snow in Big Red right now!

And we are hoping to FaceTime with Whitney later today and talk about our lives and how she is feeling and how she isn’t going to put taking surfing lessons off anymore because she has learned the truest, most pure value of every given day.

Including the time and in between.

How lucky we all are.

PS- donate blood!

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Earning those laugh lines with great friends

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More great friends

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Last winter with Cleo

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Blue-eyed beauty

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This guy!

 

 

 


 

 

 

Lilacs, Learnings, the Ladies League and Loki

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Odd title, I know. It doesn’t really make sense unless you are inside my house or on the front lawn right now. My entire world is coated in the sweet, delicate, feminine scent of lilacs.

 

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Our front yard

I love these pretty plants and how their scent completely fills up our house from the east side kitchen to our west side bedroom. The driveway smells lovely. The barn cat, Jockey, who lies in these bushes during the afternoon, smells fantastic. And good old Sport, our Siamese, brings in a bit of the pretty smell when he goes on his early evening survey of the grounds (when Jockey is in the barn, of course.)

What’s interesting this year is that the backyard lilacs bloomed a month ago. Normally they burst onto the scene first but not usually a full month ahead of the front yard.

We had a fairly wet and cool spring, though, so perhaps that’s the reason. Whatever it is, I just breathed in the amazing scent through the open window to my right.

 

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One of the cool, damp days this spring leading to a very green yard

The “learnings” the title of this blog are referring to are the cooking class I’m enrolled in, a bit of golf and Bebe’s health.

I finished my final exam last night (49/50) (araaaagh! I got one wrong!!!) and am tasking myself with a challenging but amazing-sounding pasta dish this evening. I’ve made many different pasta recipes over the years but none have required as much planning as this Pasta Boscaiola does. But I’m pumped!

The pasta sauce has prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh thyme so its going to be an interesting, flavorful cream sauce if I don’t screw it up. If I can figure out how to go “live” on some social media platform maybe I will. I’ll probably get my ‘mise on place’ in place and go from there.

 

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My first go at Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (garlic and oil)

I was tasked with making Spaghetti Aglio e Olio the other night and I rocked it. It helped learning how to choose better quality store-bought dry pasta (go for pale, rough-textured pasta) which holds onto sauces better. This particular sauce was basically garlic, red chili flakes, olive oil and fresh basil. And it was yummy!

It boosted my confidence and I feel ready to try this Boscaiolo recipe tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As for me learning about my own golf game, I’ve learned that I can achieve goals I’ve set with a bit of hard work.

 

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Me and SpongeBob-ball on the par 5 9th hole!

I had the goal last summer of making par on the four par 5’s on our local course. I made the 13th hole but that was it.

But this summer something has clicked for both Alistair and me. In his case, probably having that final, annoying, restrictive pin removed from deep within his pelvis likely helped but we both are actually playing golf like, well, golfers.

And with some cool length to my drives (when they work) thanks to my Hideki Matsuyama-inspired swing, I conquered the par 5 18th a couple of weeks ago and the 9th just last week! (Ball-for-the-wall video at the end of this blog for your enjoyment… make sure your volume is on!)

 

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Hiding from the impending storm in the cart barn after making par on the par 5 18th a couple of weeks ago! Pardon the freaky eyes, it was dark in there and I was pumped.

I’m learning each time I’m out there and even though I still make a lot of crappy shots I know I’m capable of big, fun things.

And what about Bebe’s health? I guess I don’t know. Which is what I’m learning, or trying to learn.

Bebe, herself is a bit of a conundrum in that she lived in the shadows of 7 other cats for most of her life until we lost sweet old Boomer over a year ago. Babs got along with everyone and shared the cat beds with Oscar, Boomer, and Cooper but once it became  just her and Sport in the house, she became a brand new cat.

A Domesticated Indoor Cat, as she says.

 

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Fabulous Babulous during Couch Time last night

Bebe now vocalizes regularly, joins me on the Magic Blanket for Couch Time at night, cuddles up with UB from time to time and has a real, present personality within the house.

So it was noticeable 2 days ago when she didn’t demand her 3 or 4 Greenies pieces first thing in the morning. And I could tell she hadn’t eaten any kibble through the night and she didn’t eat her canned food that evening. Yesterday wasn’t much different although I always saw her drinking water and she continued to join me on the couch at night.

 

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On the couch with Mummy last night

She definitely seemed a bit weak these past couple of days and Doctor Mummy wasn’t liking this very much.

I couldn’t find anything on physical exam, which is a challenge with this particular Domesticated Indoor Cat. Despite being a real presence in our world, Bebe has never liked being held. All 4 limbs stiffly jut out the instant you pick her up so handling her for palpation is tricky.

But there she was this morning asking for and then gobbling up 6 Greenies pieces and she ran towards me when I put fresh kibble into their food dish. She’s using the litter box and appears a bit brighter today so hopefully the antibiotics I started her on 2 days ago are working on whatever needed working on.

 

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Resting in one of her usual afternoon spots just now

Regarding the Ladies League, I’m learning that I actually fit in. The local women, many of whom have been my veterinary clients since 2007, have asked me to come out and play with them since we took golf up a couple of years ago. I’ve always resisted, fearing I would embarrass my competitive self or that I would slow them all down.

Finally, with Alistair in Bismarck last week, I joined the group on Wednesday. I liked it so much I joined again on Friday.

And I am happy to report that I do fit in. To quote one of the women as she introduced me to a lady I hadn’t met, “Tanya can drive the shit out of a golf ball.”

So this has opened up an entirely new chapter to our golf experience and maybe Alistair and I will try Couples League down the road, too.

 

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Random golf photo from last month

Things are a bit different when you’re playing exclusively with women. For starters, we talk about our golf outfits a lot. Generally, the men don’t ask what brand my duds are and I haven’t shared how comfy a certain outfit is or how much give a particular skort has when swinging before.

And Girlfriend Golf is very cheerful and congratulatory, particularly when I manage to hit the shit out of the ball on a drive.

And then we all gather in the clubhouse and visit and talk about upcoming visits to the doc for someone’s hip and how one gal would rather be euthanized than go through rotator-cuff surgery again and how I can actually help with that (not the surgery, the other thing) and that maybe this is why the gals invited me to join them in the first place because I’m 10 to 20 years younger than most of them and I have the tools and the skill set and almost everyone has grandchildren and its so hot where most of these women live during the winter that the planes can’t lift off from the airports and gosh, they all miss me and my clinic but they totally understand the situation and one lady was worried because she hadn’t done her hair that morning and so-and-so has dinner guests and she was making “better than sex” cake and I’m taking a cool online cooking course!

 

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From this a couple of years ago to the Ladies League!

And finally, in reference to Loki in the title of this blog, our little friend is home again only, sadly, its a boxed version of our adorable companion.

I made it to Missoula last week and managed to hold my shit together when Alex handed me the two little boxes that contain her ashes. Whitney wants some of her very special friend so someday when we get back to Kauai or she gets back to the mainland we will share Loki with her once again.

And the other box will remain with us, firmly ensconced in Fyfe Life once more.

It seemed fitting that she go back to the living room to enjoy Couch Time again.

 

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Loki Fyfe

So this is how the summer of 2017 is beginning around the farm and on the golf courses. I’ll keep you posted on how I do during the league and what new recipes I’m trying and how they turn out.

I’m still slinging the bling and if you’re interested I’m doing my annual fundraiser this month for our local pet shelter, Paws Up Safe Home. I’ve done this for 3 years now and I give all of my 40% commissions earned this month to the shelter so every dollar really helps. And every necklace and bracelet is 25% off so its a win-win for everyone (head over to http://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe if you’d like to treat yourself and feel great about it.)

 

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Awesome arm-party one of the guests did at a fun pop-up yesterday!

And of course I’ll share Bebe’s tale because the blog is an outlet for me to share my thoughts, fears, hopes and feelings and most of you are pet lovers and I know you’ll be thinking about her.

So thanks for letting me share and for coming along on my journey. Now get out there and enjoy some summertime and don’t forget to check out the video below…

 

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My favorite golf partner needs to get home soon!

 

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Cleopatra doing some learning and exploring herself the other day

 

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Baby Bebe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curious Case of Bebe Fyfe

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Fabulous Babulous…. sunbeaming again.

Most folks who visit the Fyfe Farm haven’t met Bebe, our mysterious feline companion. If she hears that doorbell ring or a voice in the house she disappears like magic and we won’t see her for at least 2 hours.

If the house guests are spending the night I won’t see her until its time for soft food when the guest room door is closed before bed. I don’t know where she re-appears from. Sometimes the garage, sometimes the boat, sometimes from behind the washing machine.

She’s been that way ever since Whitney and her friend brought her and her littermate, Cartman home in Bismarck. I had only told the kids about the litter of kittens down the road so they would slow down with their driving. Not because we needed 2 more cats.

 

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Bebe as a kitten

When Babs and Cartman joined us that brought our indoor collection of cats to 8, which is totally ridiculous and I think it might be partly why she is as shy as she is.

When you’re the youngest sibling in a household of older, well established sibs you probably don’t need to communicate much. Or interact, other than for basic necessities like eating & using the litter box.

Over the years she slowly packed on some weight and she just did her own thing.

She, like every other female Fyfe adored our big boy, Oscar, who was basically the king of the cats.

 

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Cooper, Boomer and Bebe snuggled in with Oscar

It wasn’t unusual to find any combination of the girls with him in one of the cat beds scattered throughout the house.

This went on for years.

Until we lost Oscar.

That was the beginning of the change in feline dynamics around here because Mulder was suddenly in charge. Until we lost him, too.

 

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You can imagine the dynamics when there are this many of you! And you can’t even see Sport and Cooper!

And everything changed as Attrition continued until, as of February, we had a house with 2 indoor cats and Babs is one of them.

Which is when we got to meet the real Bebe Fyfe.

Our quiet, not-so-little fan of sunbeams and soft food has become a Domesticated Indoor Cat.

 

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Shy, young Bebe many years ago

She meows at me to remind me that our morning routine has changed.

On top of letting the dogs out, feeding the dogs, cleaning the litter box, feeding Loki, getting Rimadyl for Loki, changing the water in the water dish, getting water to Luigi, and giving treats to Luigi as I clean his cage, I now have to give 3 Greenies treats to a somewhat demanding grey & white Domesticated Indoor Cat.

I mean, she’s cute about it but when did this all start? I didn’t even know she could meow!

Bebe now comes down to our bedroom on sleep-in mornings if we’re lazily watching Netflix while sipping our Kona coffee and joins us.

On. The. Bed.

 

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“What?”

And she purrs and cuddles and interacts as if she’s been a normal cat all of her life.

She’s also lost some weight, probably due to being more active around the house and outside as well. She’s much smaller than she was in the photo above, which was taken just after we lost Boomer in February.

Boomer and Bebe always cuddled in the cat beds but there must have been something about her that kept our strange little Bebe quiet all those years.

Bebe’s sole pastime for years (aside from sunbeaming) was staring at our freezers in the garage. When I had my clinic that’s where I would sadly bring home patients we’d lost who were going in for cremation. Bebe would make the strangest chirping sounds and tip her head from side to side while staring at the freezer. We just figured she was communicating with the spirits and we’ve been fine with that.

 

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“You don’t want me to exercise, do you?”

I don’t see her staring at the freezer much any more.

Maybe she was communicating with the spirits who were likely a bit confused about their situation. I know that every paw of every pet that I have held while they transitioned with their families by their side was ready to lay down and have a good, long nap. They may not have put that thought together but I have only ever said goodbye when it was necessary.

Never out of convenience.

I used to think that was an endearing quality that Bebe had and really, she did it with such regularity it was almost a bit freakish.

But it doesn’t happen now & that’s not because our freezer is empty. Mouse, Boomer, Calypso & Phillipa sadly are beneath Alistair’s treasured huckleberries right now. I think Bebe just knows that they understand where they are and their spirits are still right at home.

 

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Bebe & Sport waiting for Mummy to open the kitchen door a few days ago.

And her own spirit is blossoming as she grows into the Domesticated Indoor Cat that she is becoming.

And we like her chirping and meowing and visiting us throughout the house. I like seeing her and Loki sleeping closer and closer together on the bed. I love the feel of her clawless paws as she kneads my lap when she explores the land of lap-sitting. I like feeding her bits of bacon on sleep-in mornings although I suspect we won’t ever get to the Kiss Piece stage of domestication.

Its fun watching her explore our house- the living room with the warm wood stove and the snoring Boston Terrier snoozing in front of it; our bedroom with all of its windows and the big TV she likes to stare at; the computer room where I do all of my creating and Loki sleeps on my feet like she is now; and the outdoor world where she has even brought a couple of mice up that big old plank.

And I love sharing Fabulous Babulous with all of you!

 

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Just another day in a cat bed with Cooper & Oscar and Boomer wondering where she was going to fit.

 

Jacques and Bebe 2010

“Pleased to meet you, Jacques. I’m Bebe. Don’t chase me, okay?”

 

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The ultimate Sunbeamer.

 

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Just now, refusing to look at the camera. Oh, Bebe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unlikely Crazy Cat Lady

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I’m not sure which is the most unlikely thing about me- the fact I’m a veterinarian or a ‘crazy cat lady’.

We didn’t have any pets growing up and, to be honest, I didn’t like animals.

Dogs smelled ‘doggy’. Cats seemed stuck up. Anything else wiggled or moved funny.

We couldn’t really have pets because we were travelling almost every weekend from fall through spring for figure skating and my brother’s hockey. I understood that and never questioned it. Looking back, it would have been difficult to have given a pet the love and companionship it would have needed.

I never took the time, though, when visiting friends and family, to get to know animals.

Especially cats.

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I didn’t know how they could purr and cuddle and head-butt their way into your heart. I didn’t know anything about how they would know if I was sad or not feeling well, and how they would instinctively sit on my lap or next to me during those times.

I didn’t know how intelligent they were.

Or how great it felt to come home to a bunch of cats seemingly happy to see me.

Or the comfort of sitting on some hay bales with a purring kitty on either side as we all soak up some sunshine.

Or what unconditional love felt like.

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I was, perhaps, a bit of an overly independent kid but I had to be like that,moving away at 12 years of age for months at a time, training for hours on end in an individual sport like figure skating.

So I don’t blame the old Tanya. I get where she was coming from.

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If anything, I feel kind of sorry for her.

But the old Tanya became the new Tanya.

Thankfully, a person can change.

It happened 20 years ago when we lived in sleepy Watford City with our golden retriever, Mitch. We weren’t looking for a kitten.

My step kids brought a white ball of wide-eyed, long-haired, purring kitten-fluff home from the neighbors and placed it on my chest.

I loved her immediately and named her Koshka.

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Koshka taught me so much about cats, even though she was mostly like a little person who lived with us.

Koshka’s little brother, Malchek found us a year later. Although he brought ear mites to everyone (Mitch, Koshka, the ferret…. you can imagine how fun it is to medicate those tiny ferret ears!) we adored him, too.

The neighbors had another batch of kittens (you would think people would figure it out) and Alistair and I took them to our farm. The other alternative, according to the neighbor, was the lake. In a bag.

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I learned all about barn kitties and hunting and dead mice and getting along and watching out for tractor tires. 2 of that batch made the move inside after a tragedy involving antifreeze and the loss of Kosh and Mal.

I learned, for the first time, how my heart could break over such a tremendous loss.

I learned that veterinarians sometimes overlooked what was right for the pets when faced with a sobbing doctor’s wife.

I learned that there are some things I will never forgive myself for.

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Thankfully, I learned how Oscar and Boomer could help me through that grief.

Enter Chorney and Cooper soon afterwards. Beautiful black cats with unique personalities and needs. I learned how a cat like Oscar would take care of a crying kitty (Chorney) through the night.

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I learned that cats can have their own lovers over the years.

Oscar and Cooper disproved the notion that only humans and dolphins will mate for love. They were both ‘fixed’ at young ages but Oscar would still ‘scruff’ Cooper and there you have it.

Cooper mourned Oscar’s loss in January, painstakingly howling for hours during the day.

And all night long.

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She is only now getting through it.

I have chosen to not get ‘over’ my animal companions as we have lost them over the years. Like Cooper, I am getting through the loss of Oscar.

Special Agent Fox Mulder Fyfe wandered onto our farm in Bismarck. I only fed him because I didn’t want the scruffy, beat up, limping, scrappy, orange ragamuffin to die with an empty stomach.

But he kept eating.

And eating.

“What do we do?” I asked Alistair, after he ate 2 cans of soft food in a row.

“Give him another,” he replied.

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His Royal Highness Sport joined our family when one of Alistair’s nurses acquired an allergic-to-cats-husband.

I think she contemplated choosing Sport but in the end we adopted our very first Siamese cat.

Which is a whole different type of cat.

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If you have been around Siamese cats before, you are nodding your head.

Or shaking it.

Or you’re crawled into a fetal position saying ‘no, no, never again’…

Jinxie, a petite, de-clawed, spayed tuxedo lovebug showed up/was dropped off at our farm. She had a habit of getting into open vehicles and driving off with them.

Maybe that’s how she ended up on our farm.

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The Schwan’s guy, Kyle, almost tipped the big yellow truck when she crawled out from under his seat, rubbing her black & white tail against his bare legs one time. She flew out the window as he swerved (likely screaming) and then spent 2 hours getting her from the ditch and bringing her home.

Cartman and Bebe were next, which is when things started to get out of hand.

I had only told my stepkids about the kitties ‘down the road’ because I wanted them to slow down when they were driving there.

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Not bring me more kittens.

Then Mama Cat showed up/was dropped off. It took me 2 litters to catch and spay her but our barn community is full of life thanks to her ‘kids’, Georgia and Mouse.

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They were joined for 3 years by a client’s cross-eyed female Siamese I was supposed to euthanize because they were moving.

Enter Mae Mae.

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Our most recent addition is Jockey- probably a Siamese cross- who moved in with Alistair in North Dakota after he left our neighbors there. Alistair felt bad leaving him when he would come to Montana so he brought Jockey here.

He is, by far, the largest cat on the place.

Clumsy and reckless but endearing and funny, Jockey fits right in.

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Through all of the additions we have had our share of losses: Cartman, Chorney, Mae Mae, Mamma Cat, Jinxie, Hissy Phitt, (Mouse & Georgia’s brother) and, of course, Oscar.

I know a lot of people think we’re insane sharing our world with so many felines but I feel richer for it.

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They helped me get through vet school on cold, lonely, exhausting evenings after learning, palpating, operating, studying and studying some more.

They have been there without judgment or scorn on days when I get the tractor stuck, or I can’t get a vehicle started, or I have no hot water for close to a month, or the snow falls, endlessly, for weeks.

They were always there after sad days at the vet clinic.

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And they’ll continue to be here for me and I will be here for them. Its our little trade-off.

That, and donating their reproductive organs at the door.

And getting along.

And not being Phantom Piddlers.

This is how I grew and eventually changed and said goodbye to the old Tanya. I became an unlikely but very happy Crazy Cat Lady.

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