Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mommy's Coming Back in April

Well, here's your favorite Chihuahua back again, doing his mommy's dirty work. Actually, that's just what she thinks. I'm using it to get steak. We'll talk about that in a minute.

After she came back from SXSW, Mommy's been busy with all kinds of stuff that has nothing to do with petting me. After numerous complaints from yours truly, she realized that her mommy points were dropping dangerously low and that something had to go. And that something was NOT going to be paying attention to me.

So, for the next couple of weeks, Mommy won't be posting any blogs about me, my fellow pack mates, or... you know... me. She'll be back in April with new stories to entertain you. Until then, she'll refer you back to earlier stories that you may have missed or just forgotten about.

No, about that steak. I take mine medium rare.

That was not a hint.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Going to SXSW :-)

This is Chief.

I am very upset.

Mommy is going to somewhere called Austin, Texas to give some kind of stupid, stupid talk on social media or something.

Whatever it is, it is dumb because she is going to be gone from me.

That is just wrong.

It is also a bummer for you because there will not be an official blog this week or next.

But really, it is far worse for me #justsoyouknow

She promises to give me lots of kisses when she gets home and to get back to the blog on 3/27, but sometimes she is a fibber.

Please feel sorry for me until she gets back. #andsendsteak

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Linus in the Snow

Linus is a unique dog, with a unique set of needs. It became fairly clear recently that he just wasn't fitting into the pack (you know, my largely sedentary, largely Chihuahua group of dogs). My business partner and friend, Ben Hopkin (@actingnodrama) was moving out to Idaho with his dog-loving (but dog-lacking) family and more than enough space for Linus to play with his imaginary friend. Plus, Ben's 11-year-old had bonded with Linus and kept looking at me with his big, please-can-I-have-your-dog-nice-lady eyes. It was a match made in heaven. So, today's guest blog comes from Ben, because as much as I know Linus is happy, I miss the little fluff-ball.

I was worried when we moved to Idaho. I was worried for a lot of reasons (I was moving to a place that has winters where the temperatures dip to -20 F commonly after living in L.A. for 1o years), but one of the bigger ones was how our new dog, Linus, recently adopted from Dr. McCray, would fare in his new home.

I needn't have worried.

Linus took to Idaho like a fish takes to water. He loved the bigger back yard. He loved the new neighborhood. He loved the dogs he met (well, all of the light-colored ones, anyway... a story for another blog entry).

But it wasn't winter yet.

Linus is a small dog. Linus is an L.A. dog. Linus had never experienced snow or the cold temperatures that accompany that snow. Linus was in for one heck of a shock.

Once again, I needn't have worried.

I have never seen a dog romp in snow like Linus does. He barks once when he wants to go outside. I figured that once it was winter, he'd only do that when he was desperate to go potty. Not so. He goes outside now more than he ever did in the more moderate temperatures. I'm beginning to worry about what he's doing to our heating bills, the door gets opened so often.

One other, unanticipated problem. Linus is a white fluffy dog. Snow is a white, fluffy substance. See the problem?

I have now nearly panicked about a dozen times, because I couldn't see the dog anywhere. Every time he's been busy flouncing around in the snow, completely camouflaged.

But you know what? I wouldn't trade those heart-stopping moments for the world. Because there's no greater sight than watching our puppy playing with his imaginary friend out in the pristine white blanket covering our lawn.

Now that you've had a Linus update, it's time to let you know about my controversial thriller,
30 Pieces of Silver, that's today's Bestseller for a Day ( Today only, you can get my novel for $.99, enter to win a Kindle, and help out indie authors everywhere. You can get a copy of my book here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Orlin knows what he is doing!

As most of you know I had a hard year with losing a group of 3 pets I had for over 15 years.

Strangely it was Orlin who I still feel the most connected to. Perhaps because in life he was always such a good boy that I even though we didn't interact nearly as much as say Lance and I (worshiping him as I was commanded to) or Molly and I (mainly yelling at her to stop being bad), I knew I could always count on him.

And even after he has passed to the other side, he is still my bestest boy.

If you read a few weeks ago, s crappy little Chihuahua entered my life (via Orlin I am sure). He is everything I needed. Bright, funny, silly, goofy and a lovey-dovey kind of boy.

Then after Molly went, I thought I wanted a Border Collie. I haven't had one since childhood and I thought, you know, I am only going to have so many more dogs in my lifetime, I want a Border Collie this time.

But none seemed right. The ones that seemed like the best fit were up in a rescue in Tahoe, a good 10 hour drive from me. Was I really going to drive to Tahoe to look at a dog without any guarantee they would be a fit for my pack?

The other concern was that Orlin had done such a good job bringing me Jasper (Jaspy-J is his rap name) but now it was Molly's turn to bring her replacement.

Um... #yikes Given our 'interesting' (read difficult) relationship I was a little worried what she would send me. Did I really want to risk a fourth dog when my pack was so perfect right now.

Our only hope was that in heaven she was the same dog as she was down here and she was too busy being bad to find her own replacement so she asked Orlin to do it for her (again, just like in life - he was her go-to guy).

So once again I was sitting under the stars contemplating driving up to Tahoe to look at a Border Collie rescue, and I asked Orlin.

Babe, can you do me one more favor? Could you tell me what am I supposed to do?

I put that out into the heavens then went to bed. Fully expect to make arrangement for the long drive.

But when I woke up in the morning there was an email (I am NOT making this up, folks, this is how my life works): "Sheltie pup in desperate need of rescue. If he doesn't find a home in the next 12 hours he is going to a high kill shelter."

I just smiled and thanked Orlin. It wasn't a Border Collie - heck it wasn't even a Sheltie. It turned out to be a mini-Aussie, but I knew what I had to do.

So to make a long story short, Wyatt is now our fourth family member. Does he have a ton of problems? Of course. He was neglected and abused.

But he's right where he is supposed to be.

At home with me.

Thank you, Orlin. You will never be forgotten.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love Bugs

Every Valentine's Day I am reminded of two little puppies that I met very early in my career (I don't want to age myself but it was before CDs had been invented #ouch).

I was just a kennel assistant back then and sure I loved all animals but growing up on a ranch I had a special affinity to working dogs, in particular Border Collies.

So you can imagine how upset I was when two little Border Collie puppies came in with parvo.

Back then parvo was a very serious disease with a super high mortality rate. We always did everything we could but back then we just didn't have the knowledge/resources to save most of them.

But here came these two pups, so sick, but so in love with one another.

Per standard protocol we separated them into two different cages. They were side by side. But that was not enough. Somehow they moved the barrier and were found snuggled together.

Ok, we tried putting them in two different banks of cages. Somehow one of them broke out and was found laying up against the bars with the other laying on the bars from her side.

Now remember I was just a kennel assistant, but I cared for a lot of patients and had great instincts so I told the vet that I thought we should keep them together.

He had never heard of such a thing, and neither had I, I just had the gut feeling they needed one another.

So with not a lot else we could do, we decided to keep them together. It took several days, but hour by hour they got stronger.

And they survived! It was the first set of pups we had that were that sick that fully recovered.

The owners, who came in every day to visit decided to call the pair "Love" and "Bug."

Those two pups went on to live happy, long lives.

After those two though, we realized the importance of managing body heat and the simple comfort of having another animal with them.

For the really sick little babies, my own Border Collie "Sox" would curl up with those sick puppies and let them know someone in the world loved them very much. I can't tell you what that did for our survival rates.

Even after so many advances have been made and how much better our survival rates are, there is still that occasional pup that gets so very sick. Thank goodness I had an Aussie girl who would love to curl up in their cage and nurse them back to health.

So on this Valentine's Day, do not ever underestimate the power of Love (or Bug) :-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Ok, so my new Chihuahua's real name is Jasper, however for some reason he has decided he is a rapper (and not a very good one), hence the rap name "Jaspy-J"

He is one of those Chihuahuas that think he is so very cool. Kind of like the "Malibu's Most Wanted" for Chihuahuas.

But really at his core, he is just a dork.

His squeaky toy scares him half the time.

Don't move too fast at night or you will spook him.

He is afraid of strangers... even if he has met them a dozen times before.

Yet for all his eccentricities (he likes playing with the cats than he does with dogs), he is exactly what I needed.

After the difficult year I have had, having the goofiest, bounce like Tigger, still needs Mommy when the wind howls kind of puppy has been like a suave for my soul.

I worried no one could ever replace Orlin, and no one can, but that Orlin. He knew exactly what his Mommy needed. A dork.

So now I have 3 Chihuahaus.

1 that is expert at mind control (all 2 pounds of him)
1 that thinks everyone is a serial killer
and 1 that thinks his album is going to drop sometime this year. #oy

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Band is Back Together #poignancyalert

The last 6 months have been rough and I am here to sadly let you know that Molly, the barking dynamo, has finally met her match and gone to the great beach in the sky.

She was the last of a group of animals I got about 15 years ago. Which was about the time of my divorce so you can imagine what Orlin, Molly, and Lance meant to me.

They got me through one of the roughest times of my life. And almost like dominoes they went down.

First Lance, then Orlin and now finally Molly.

As we know from my last post, I believe that Orlin sent that little Jasper puppy to me so that I had a playful companion when Molly finally needed to join him.

Orlin always was the bestest of boys like that.

Whenever I lose a pet, I always take comfort in the fact that I am sending them to a better place but for Molly that just wasn't enough. If you read my Twitter stream you know that she and I had a love/hate relationship.

We certainly loved each other, however her main goal in life was to be bad. She had her routine DOWN. Make a fake play for the litter box then dash for the bathroom trash and once Mommy has committed to the turn, run for the kitchen to see if anything got dropped during cooking.

She also orchestrated a gazillion break outs. Not to run away, but to go do the Lord's work in spreading the word about Spay & Neuter and adoption! Let's just say the "Home Again" microchip people knew me by name.

So I was torn after she passed. Was I sad? Was I relieved? Was I crazy for thinking that Molly didn't really want to go to better place. She thought down here was pretty stinking awesome.

Then I had a flash (I can only assume it was from Orlin) of Lance, Orlin and Molly totally hanging out together, with Molly in the lead, thinking up something naughty to do.

Yep, the band was back together... in heaven maybe, but still back together. We are calling them The Blonds. And they are rocking the house!

But with Molly's perchance to bark, I can only hope that angels come equipped with ear plugs!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Puppy Love


How could you not love them?

Well, except for all that pooping, and peeing, and yipping and biting. I mean besides that they are perfect.

And this little one has been perfect for me.

As most of you know, I was devastated after the loss of my beloved Orlin. He didn't have a lot of flash or bang going for him, he was the kind of dog that was like your favorite pair of jeans.

The whole family/pack went through the grieving process, but then one day you start to get that itch. That even though I was going to wait 6 months, I had the urge to head over to the shelter.

I talked myself out of it, but kept having this urge to go look. Strangely it wasn't to find a replacement for Orlin, but my heart hearkened back to a dog a room mate long ago had. His name was Jasper and he was Chi x Jack Russel. And even though he was a little goofy for me, Chief loved him. Princess loved him. Molly loved him.

I realized I wanted whatever new dog that came in to fill Jasper's place. But how to find a dog so uniquely silly yet restrained (so as not to hurt Chief)?

That night I was outside, looking at the stars, like Orlin used to love to do, and I asked.

I said out loud (thank goodness we don't have close neighbors) "Orlin, you need to give me a sign, buddy. Tell me what to do."

Then of course Princess and Molly got into a little scuffle and I didn't think about it until the next day I went to work and was putting my key into the lock when everyone shouted "Don't!"

"Why not?"

"Because I found a Chihuahua puppy and he's running around!"

Um, ya. He was Chief and Princess' color but if he had been a tri color, he would have looked just like that dog, Jasper.

I knew at the very least I had to foster him.

I got home with this new puppy (tentatively named Oliver by the tech that found him) and the other dogs were freaking out, barking, Princess snarling... What to do...

Then I flashed on LJ (the flame point kitten... see blog post here for more info :-)

If we could get Elvira to accept the kitten by calling him "Baby Lance" what about for a puppy?

So there I am, going "Look, it's Jasper!"

All the dogs cocked their heads. But he's the wrong color...

"Jasper got a dye job!"

Um... he's acting kind of weird.

"So did Jasper."

True, true.

I set him down and he has been little Jasper ever since. He even likes the name (he will kiss you furiously if you say "Jasper, Jasper, Jasper"). He even has a rap name... Jaspy "J"

I have no idea if we will be his forever home right now, but puppies. You can't live without and you sure as heck can't walk around the house in the dark without getting a little 'surprise' with them!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

D.O.G. the dog that defined my career!

And before we get into the story, I know D.O.G.'s parents would want me to tell you it is pronounced "D-O-Gee," NOT dog!

You see they found her on the front step one morning as a little tiny puppy. No one else around. No neighbors with Dachshunds. Just a D.O.G. the front porch. She got her name because my clients had a toddler and would spell D.O.G. in front of him so he wouldn't get too attached. Then when they decided to keep her, he shouted out, "Yeah! We get to keep D.O.G.!"

And she was the cutest, sweetest dog in the universe. She would run right up to you, wagging her tail..."Hi, I'm D.O.G. and I love you." Then plant a kiss on your nose.

But back to my career. I mean I knew I wanted to be a vet. They call people like me 'neo-natal veterinarians' since we pretty much knew in the womb we wanted to treat animals.

There are those teenage years when your mind wonders and you start looking at other options. Not very seriously of course, but still you are a teen, ya know?

It was during one of these periods when tragedy struck D.O.G. Her Mommy was holding her in her arms when a Labrador (yes, a Lab, shocking as that is) jumped up and attacked poor D.O.G.!

I won't go into the details but D.O.G was horribly injured. Mommy ran her in and we promptly did surgery, but let me tell you there were complications and we were not at all sure D.O.G. was going to make it.

While she was recovering from anesthesia, I held D.O.G. in my arms and prayed as hard as I could that she would make it.

Still groggy and in so much pain I can't imagine, D.O.G. looked up, and said with her eyes "I'm D.O.G. and I love you." Then she kissed me.

Whatever doubt I may have had about my career evaporated. I knew in that singular moment that I wanted to be just like my mentor. I wanted to be the person that Mommies and Daddies ran to when everything seemed lost and, at the very least, try to save their precious babies.

D.O.G. did great. She never looked back from that surgery and recovered faster than any of us could have guessed. She wasn't even afraid of Labradors!

So thank you D.O.G. for making sure I stayed the course. I hope I have lived up to both my mentor's and your standards.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mind Control... It's not just Chief!

I knew Chihuahuas were manipulative, and I thought Chief particularly gifted with his mind control.

You know, the times when I was walking across the room, telling him that he couldn't control me with his mind only to realize that I was taking him outside just as he had asked! Those mind control powers.

But I met another Chihuahua with possibly even greater powers.


She was so cute and sweet in the room. She had a broken tooth that we needed to fix, but besides that everything was great!

Except I kept forgetting to write down her orders! My poor tech kept saying...

"Dr. McCray didn't you want to give Gazpacho an antibiotic injection."

Why, yes, of course!

Then two minutes later... "Weren't we going to do a heartworm test?"

Why, yes, of course we need to!

This went on and on. Everything I had said I wanted to do in the room, whisked away from my mind.

I apologized to the Gazpacho's mom. "I am not usually forgetful like this! I am so sorry!"

"Oh, don't worry about it. Gazpacho has incredible mind control powers!"

Both my tech and I started to laugh. We talked about Chief's mind powers all the time.

Once I knew what I was dealing with, I combat Gazpacho's hazing of my memory. As hard as she tried though, she still got all the medicine she needed!

Now I know to guard myself (and have my tech take PLENTY of notes) whenever Gazpacho's around.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Frick & Frack

For the New Year, I thought I would tell you a tale of... two mutts.

Who knew they would possibly save one of my client's life?

You see my client had lost her cat and had decided to not to replace her beloved feline. She and her husband were retired and really looking forward to traveling.

They had dreamed for decades about heading to Europe, Alaska, Costa Rica. The further away, the better. They wanted to stay for weeks at a time, really immersing themselves in the culture.

When she came back to pick up her kitty's ashes we said what we both thought would be our final good-bye.

Um... ya... until later that day.

My client went to spread her cat's ashes at a nearby beach when she heard whimpering from some bushes. There were two tiny puppies! They were skinny, filthy and starving!

Our course she rushed them to me.

And oh boy did they have a LOT of health problems, but oh boy were they cute!!! They were some kind of poodle, Jack Russell, Heinz 57 kind of puppy. All fluffy on the head and all wirey everywhere else with little short noses but long ears.

I started to go over our option but didn't even get humane society out of my mouth when she said she would take full responsibility and at the least foster the pups until they were adoptable.

For once, I actually thought this client meant it. I mean, I had been hearing for years about these elaborate vacations. They had brochures. They had travel insurance already purchased. They were serious. I fully expected to find those pups another forever home.

So my client went home with the two pups and about twelve different medications (and several cans of food). But every day was a new problem... with both of them.

Seriously it as if these two pups shared one body. If one sneezed, the other one sneezed. If one stopped eating, the other stopped eating. They walked in step. They played exactly the same. They came whenever the other was called.

So you can see how easy it was to name them Frick & Frack.

Then days turned into weeks.

These pups needed a LOT of care and attention but my client's first big trip to China was coming up. They had scant days before they had to decide to cancel the trip and eat the cost of the trip (the insurance covered a lot of contingencies but not super cute but fragile pups) or find the pups a new home.

My client's husband then started feeling a little ringing in his ears. He playfully blamed it on the pups constant yipping. But they saw it as a perfect opportunity to have him checked by the doctor. Maybe if he had an ear infection they would have a medical reason to cancel the trip and have it covered by the insurance.

Well thank goodness he went to the doctor. That ringing wasn't an infection, but a tumor on the bones in his ear!

Luckily it was caught early enough that they were able to do surgery to save not only his life but his hearing as well!

If it hadn't been for those pups and both of them wanting to stay home to care for them, my client may have ended up in a foreign country needing delicate, intricate microscopic cancer surgery! The doctors even said had it gone on much longer it could have broken through into this brain cavity!

So yes, Frick and Frack (who recovered as well as their owner did) possibly saved his life!

And even better yet, after the surgery and radiation therapy, my clients decided they still wanted to travel! But this time in an RV.

Now they and Frick & Frack cruise around the country getting to know our country's culture inside and out.

I get post cards from them several times a year. Each time with Frick and Frack sitting side by side next my client and her husband with a national monument as a backdrop.

They could not look any happier.

Life seldom turns out how you plan it (even decades in advance) but it feels like when you let animals into your heart, it turns out just fine! :-)