Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rowan's Birthday outing...

Rowan is "officially" 17 years old as of today. She was born sometime in March according to her adoption information, so I chose Saint Patrick's day as her birthday. I don't know if it was prescience or a grievous mistake, because she's turned out to be a pesty, fast, elusive leprechaun of a cat. At 17, she's the equivalent of an 84 year old human, and she's still quite spry. I only hope I'm that well preserved when I get to that age.

Rowan's birthday present was the first "spring" outing in the yard. She loves to go outside in warm weather, but I don't let her roam freely because of the foxes and coyotes in the neighborhood. Instead the cats get supervised outings with Chander and me playing bodyguard We're having unseasonably warm weather, and she'd been staring longingly out the sliding glass door watching the robins and squirrels hop around.

Unfortunately for her, most of the possible prey items skedaddled when Chandler shot out the door. Still, she had a good time reacquainting herself with the backyard and nibbling on grass.

Hmmm...this twig is interesting...

Nibbling on grass was a challenge. Despite the relatively warm days we've been experiencing lately, we're still in the stages where crocuses are emerging. The grass really hasn't had a chance to grow, but that didn't stop her from marching across the lawn to all her favorite plots of grass. Rowan has occasionally been hard to catch in the past, so she has to wear a harness and drag a flexi lead locked at its greatest length behind her. Despite extra weight of the dragging lead, she first wandered up toward the woods and then toward the neighbor's weathered and decaying fence at the rear of the property.

I'm on a mission. Do not interrupt!

Ashke joined her in grass nibbling, but also did a surprising amount of walking around on his creaky legs. He's spent a lot of time sleeping in the sun this winter, which has caused the gray fur on his sides to be browned by the sunlight. I think he has some arthritis in his front legs, but it didn't hold him back this afternoon. After making a beeline to his favorite patch of grass behind my parked car, he wandered the driveway for a while. Eventually Ashke circumnavigated the house, checking out every bush along the way. He punctuated most of his explorations with loud meows; I think he may be a bit less confident now that he's older.

I was just inspecting the planter.

Chan did a bit of running around in figure eights, but soon decided nothing really exciting was forthcoming, and settled on the grass. I adore the English Shepherd "off switch". I had to put in some extra hours at work today, so Chandler had not been walked yet. The one case of zoomies was the only indication of this lack of exercise. Once it had been worked out, he quickly settled down to watch over the yard as I wandered between the two cats.

Bodyguard duty. So boooooooooooring.
Are we going for a walk after this?

Yes, Chandler got his walk after the cats were back indoors. Ashke and Rowan had a snack, and have been curled up sleeping for almost four hours since their trip to the yard. All that exercise and fresh air must have exhausted them physically and mentally. They don't look like they are going to move anytime soon. Maybe I do really have 17 year old cats.

Happy 17th Birthday Rowan!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Water Fetch

Chandler and I went hiking today. He had a great time. I managed to slip on the steep banking next to the dam. To his credit, Chan did look back over the top of the hill to see what had happened to me. I suspect he quickly figured out that the only damage done was to my ego and my clothes, which were liberally splattered with mud. There really wasn't any reason to put a halt to our exercise, so I trudged on, wiping at the mud and trying to find a good spot along the bank of the reservoir to rinse off the edge of my coat.

I found a good fetching stick first. It was about one inch thick and one and a half feet long, worn smooth and pale by the loss of its bark. Very easy to see.

Chandler quickly noticed that I was carrying it, and started to give me "hints". He'd stand in the shallows or on the edge of the bank, hoping that I'd toss the stick into the water for him. Unfortunately for him, the small plants and saplings that cluttered the edge of the reservoir preventing me from rinsing off my coat also kept me from tossing the stick. He had to wait until we forded a small stream and hiked into a small pine grove where there was a clear bank that would be good for fetching (and coat rinsing).

Despite the fact that it was less than forty degrees out today, Chandler proceeded to have a great time:

I find Chandler's love for playing water fetch very reassuring. As I have mentioned in other posts, I was recently surprised at how difficult it was to get Chandler to play. The fact that Chan will enthusiastically leap into cold water in hot pursuit of a floating stick proves that he is interested in playing. The problem is just that his definition of acceptable play circumstances has shrunken for some reason. My job will be convincing him to widen his perception of those circumstances. Convincing him will probably involve being very silly.

In the meantime, we'll keep playing water fetch, because he loves it and the exercise is good for his hips. Tomorrow we're going to the Wenzel Sugar House BEFORE hiking, to avoid muddy accidents. They're serving maple pudding cake this weekend, because Hebron is holding its Maple Festival. We were going to go today, but I really didn't want to show up looking like a ball of mud. Chandler wouldn't have cared (he'd just want some cake), but I did.