Is this our new housemate?

My mom doesn’t waste time and she’s not especially sentimental.

“Our home is too quiet,” she said, after Ophelia left us on Tuesday. “It will be hard to find a cat who meets my specifications: at least 5, spayed and declawed. Oh yes, and we need a cat with charm, wit and personality.”

So she’s browsing on, where she found me and later Ophelia. And there she is … a tabby named Biggums and later Kerfuffle.

She emailed the Seattle Animal Control people. At first she figured they were out in the middle of nowhere, but then she discovered our very own #57 bus goes right by there. She discovered that Kerfluffle is being fostered and it’s up to the foster mom.

“There must be a ton of applicants,’ my mom sighed. “She’s such a pretty cat.”



Dog gets educated

I’m going to be the smartest, most educated dog in Philadelphia at the rate I’m going.

My mom is giving a historical tour on Saturday. She’s freaking out because she has to learn all the stops. “It’s like studying for an exam,” she says.

So every morning we walk the route. She stops and looks at the buildings and thinks about what she will say.

I tag along. Frankly, I don’t care about the buildings. I am looking for historical evidence of food.

The walk takes forever: we’re gone over an hour. I am exhausted and so is the mom. It’s in a good cause, though, and it takes her mind off her injured arm.

It’s a tough life for a dog …

My mom paid UPS to ship this bed to Philadelphia from Seattle. She knows I like this bed (doesn’t it look all fuzzy and warm) and she figured I’d feel at home with my own furniture.

So … do I get to sleep in it? Hah. Our ditziest housemate, Creampuff the Cat, has done a total takeover. She loves this bed. It’s way too big for her but do I dare make a move to displace her? I’d get my rather long nose scratched off.

It’s tough around here when all the pets think they’re royalty.

Dog is exhausted after walk

My mom took me on a LONG walk this morning – a good 40 minutes! Here’s what I’m doing afterward.

In case you’re wondering, I’m sleeping under my mom’s desk, surrounded by cables and cords. You can tell I’m REALLY tired: I’m not chewing anything.

Cathy keeps worrying, “Is Gracie getting enough exercise?” She likes to say, over and over, “A tired dog is a good dog.”

OK, mom. I’m a great dog!

Dog checking out the historic district

My mom likes to take me for walks in the historic alleys. There’s less traffic, she says, and people are more dog-friendly.

She’s especially fond of Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the US. She talks about the historic homes and tries to educate me about brick work, fan lights and architecture. Since she is a volunteer AIA guide she knows a lot about Philadelphia history so we keep stopping to view a particularly quaint structure from 200 years ago.

As a dog, my attitude is, “Who cares?” But I insist on taking time to stop and sniff the history of each post on the street.

“I wonder if people tied up their horses there 200 years ago,” my mom muses. I have more recent activities in mind.

Dog feeling settled in new home

Ah…that feels SO good.

My Aunt Sara sent my favorite beds, toys and treats via UPS, and the package came today.

I love this bed. My mom Cathy says she got it for her first dog, Keesha, right at the Broward County Humane Society. She’d never had a dog before and she had no idea what she needed, so they sold her this bed, a leash and collar and a bunch of other things.

This bed was a good investment, my mom says. It’s held up perfectly and I’ve never even tried to chew it.

Don’t I look blissful? See … every dog needs a good bed!

Dog Adapting to New Home in Philadelphia

“Gracie, you haven’t changed a bit!” my mom says, over and over. She says I act exactly the same as I did in Seattle … except that I now like to sleep under a table instead of on the sofa. Well, there’ a reason. Our housemate Ophelia has cornered the sofa, literally.

As we were coming home from the airport, my mom gave me the scoop (!) on our new life here.

“The city is bigger than Seattle,” she said, “and there are more ways for dogs to get into trouble. So we’ll be looking into obedience classes. Won’t that be fun?”

I can think of another word for obedience but hey, you never know. Hopefully my mom will choose a class that believes in training with treats. But then she said,  “And Gracie, you’ll have to go on a diet and we’ll go on LOTS of walks together. I’ve been eating too much Philly food myself — pizza, bagels and even a muffin now and then. So you will be motivating me to go on walks and stay fit.”

Did I mention that my mom works out in a gym? She’s got great muscle tone. But she does love to eat. “If I had six months to live,” she says, “I would say skip the surgery. I’ll eat a big steak dinner with a baked potato and pie with ice cream for dessert. Every night.”

So now I realize I’ve flown here to be my mom’s fitness motivation coach. Great. Do I get a raise?

Then she told me the sad news about Ophelia, formerly our fattest housemate. “Ophelia hasn’t been eating,” she said. “We went to Penn for an ultrasound. She’s got something going on but I’m not going to do the surgery and chemo, if it’s cancer. She’s at least 13 years old and frankly, I wouldn’t want this for me.”

So Ophelia is getting treated with meds. My mom force feeds her 4 times a day, gives her fluids and even adds a B-12 shot every week.

“When she gets more of the meds,” my mom said, “she’ll be eating again. We had to get a dosage in liquid form because the pills are so tiny they turn to crumbs when I cut them in half. And then I gave her the wrong dose of meds for a couple of days. But we are back on track now.”

Hey mom, just give me Ophelia’s food. I love cat food.

“Maybe you can talk to Ophelia,” my mom said wistfully. “After all you both spent several hours in the cargo hold of a cross-country flight. She likes you.”

Great. Now I’m my mom’s fitness coach AND I have to play social worker to a cat.

What I really don’t understand is Ophelia’s love for my mom. Even though my mom forces food down her throat and sticks needles into her skin, Ophelia responds with love. She jumps up on my mom’s lap and sits there, purring so loudly I can hear her across the room. My mom says, “See, Gracie – that makes it all worthwhile.”

If you say so, mom. Time for another nap.

Dog finally goes home from the Philadelphia airport

Riding in the back seat of a cab from Delta Air Cargo to home.

My mom was so nervous about me getting on the plane. There are so many rules about flying as a dog. All I know is, my Aunt Sara handed me over to some people in Seattle – Delta Airlines, she said. I had to stay in my crate, which was just fine with me. In a strange place, a dog needs a den.

My Aunt Sara made sure I didn’t have a cushion or anything to chew on, because we all know what happens when I’m alone in a crate with anything that I can sink my teeth into. Ahem.

I got into Philadelphia on time, in perfect condition.  but my mom was late. She missed her train to the airport because she wasn’t sure where to get it. Then she couldn’t find the air cargo building. It took her awhile to find the bus to get to “Cargo City,” which is where all the cargo centers are in Philadelphia. (In case you’re wondering, it stops at the employee bus stop.) Then she got off at the place where she’d picked up Ophelia a year ago. It was closed.

Now even my intrepid mom started to get a little nervous. She’s out in the middle of nowhere in the Philadelphia airport with not a single other person in sight. She’s carrying her ID and credit cards to get me and she’s got cash for the cab home. And she’s all alone at this empty building.

But she had her trusty cell phone. She called the number posted on the door for Philadelphia Delta Ops. They told her the cargo office had moved. While she freaked out about waiting for another bus,  the nice man said the new cargo office was about ten minutes away, walking. “And it’s a nice day,” he pointed out.

Good thing he didn’t know that my mom isn’t exactly a Gen X age. And an even more good thing: she wore her Dress for Unsuccess outfit of shorts and sneakers and (thanks to her new gym instructor) she’s in fantastic shape.

All I know is, my nap was interrupted when I heard the Delta counter person say, “Is that your dog – the sweet brown one? She’s the cutest thing.”  And I heard a familiar voice saying, “Yes, that’s Gracie!”  She knew they had to be talking about me, although I like to think of myself as more of a blond than a brown.

Then we had another adventure. My mom had considered hiring a car to take us home. But she figured she’d just call one of the cab companies she uses regularly.

We had a shock. They refused to come. (I know all this because by then I was out of my crate, leashed up and walked for “exercise.”)

The counter people were great. They suggested another cab company. No dice. Finally my mom called Quaker City cabs, which she had used before, she said, to go to New Jersey. They agreed to find us a cab. While we waited, the cargo people  encouraged  us to walk around outside. Frankly, I suspect they were happy to lose my mom from their nice waiting room.

I also suspect they know a Canine Urban Princess when they see one.) They didn’t say what they must have thought: “Why didn’t this woman set up her transportation ahead of time?” My mom just figured cabs go everywhere.

The Quaker City cab people were really nice. They found a driver from their affiliate company, County, who knew Cargo City. We didn’t mind waiting. It was nice to be outdoors again after that long flight. “Bonding time,” my mom said, but I had more important things on my brain … like sniffing every piece of grass in the tiny lawn around the building..

The cab company even called to say the cab was just 8 minutes away. It was more like 12 but who’s counting? We were just thrilled to go home.

Our cab driver immediately won us over. “I love dogs,” he said. “Will she bite me?” He offered me a human style cookie but my mom immediately said, “No way -this dog has allergies!”

Are you kidding? I might bite if someone attacked me or my mom, but I’m a lover, not a fighter.

Somehow he got my crate stuffed into his trunk and we were soon rolling to Old City in style. Here’s a photo of me on the back seat. Don’t I look royal? That driver got a nice fat tip, too. Of course, after he finished thanking my mom, she said, “No worries … and would you mind helping me carry Gracie’s crate?”

My mom said she will be eternally grateful to the nice folks at Delta who got me here, the great counter people in cargo and the nice guy in Ops who guided her to the new cargo area and then tried to help with the cab situation.

“Just one thing,” my mom said, after she had recovered from the shock of the freight bill. “I wish you’d get frequent flyer miles for your owner. I deserve a nice trip after all this.”


Getting ready to join my mom

My Aunt Sara put me on a plane last night. It was SO nice to see her again! I also got to see Dr Clare, my wonderful vet, for a check-up before the flight. Naturally I’m in great shape but I heard Aunt Sara warning my mom, “Gracie’s got more gray … and she’s gained weight!”

Uh oh. Well, my mom would figure it out soon anyway. Maybe I’ll get thinner during the flight.

The Delta folks take really good care of pets. My mom has shipped cats before, she says, and there are no hassles.  But I’m on a red-eye and I will be exhausted!