You’ve Heard of Fuzzy Dice…

Posted on by Mary Shafer

…but have you heard of Operation Fuzzy Mice? No, seriously: It’s a program in California, put together by a woman named Michelle Lyon, to provide vet care and other pet-related resources — either by paying for it directly or by referral and networking — to low-income families who own pets, and who would otherwise have to relinquish, abandon, or euthanize their pets for inability to provide care financially.

We’ve all heard about families like these who have fallen on hard times due to illness, injury, family disaster, or national economic recession resulting in loss of jobs or homes. Pets are given up tearfully and reluctantly by owners, because families see no other choice. This of course does no justice to the pets, nor to any state’s already-struggling economy when the state must support overcrowded shelters as well as euthanize and dispose of so many homeless animals.

Michelle says, “I have only known one case where an owner gave a pet up in coldhearted fashion. All others were tearful and reluctant, not just ‘dumping’.” Even in abandonment cases, animals are purposefully left in places where someone else might find and care for them, and this happens because the owners can’t afford to pay the relinquishment fee at a shelter.

We’re all for any program that can help alleviate the suffering of these innocent companion animals whose only transgression is that they must eat and be cared for, which costs money. They’re already grieving and bewildered from having been abandoned by their families. Let’s support groups who try to find them homes and who, like Operation Fuzzy Mice, try at least to provide a modicum of health care for them during these devastating transitions.

Learn more at Disabled Pets In Need
, a great little blog we discovered at, about how Operation Fuzzy Mice is helping pets like Conan, a kitty who was injured during fostering after being abandoned.

Pet News and Views Likes "Almost Perfect!"

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Michele Hollow’s blog has a little something for all critter lovers!

Our friend Michele Hollow over at Pet News and Views has posted a positive review of Almost Perfect, and we sure thank her for her kind words. She says, “This compilation of true stories about animals with disabilities and the people who care for them is uplifting, and at times quite funny.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we’re happy that such a well-known and loved critter blogger has found us worthy of readers’ consideration. In fact, others are watching, too, because Michele’s review got picked up by the good folks at! These folks are all about making a difference (I’ll bet some of our readers are members there, as we are), so we’re just wowed that they also like our work.

Thanks, everyone, for helping us spread the good word about critters who can!

A Truly Oscar-Worthy Performance!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Oscar, the world’s first bionic cat — or, as I like to think of him,
a very modern pirate kitty. He’s stolen our hearts. ARRRRRRR!

Oscar, a native of Britain’s Channel Islands, lost an argument with the business end of a combine harvesting machine. The results weren’t pretty. Having seen the results of a similar accident with a kitten when I was very small, I can say this with authority.

Fortunately for Oscar, the outcome was much happier — and history-making, to boot! Oscar was fortunate to receive immediate medical care, and has become the world’s first bionic cat. Check out The Cat’s Meow blog for the rest of the story.

And what a hope-filled and inspiring story it is! So glad to be able to share yet another winning kitty with you here on Almost Perfect Pets! Thanks to Dena and several others for bringing this story to my attention.

Amazing Grace

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Thanks to our friend Caryn for this latest cute kitteh, star of today’s love story:

It really needs no other commentary, so I’ll just share it with you here. Always happy to have some GOOD news to spread around! And here’s the song to go with it!

Haiku for a small gray cat

Posted on by Mary Shafer

I was going through some files today and ran across this little poem — a long haiku — I wrote about Idgie. I wrote it three years before Almost Perfect came out, and can see the beginnings of my frustration with people’s attitudes toward special needs pets.

Art is kewl.

I need rain or at

Least I could use a lesson

From a small gray cat

See me, see you, she

Can do neither but still she

Loves more than most do

The gift of vision

Is one she’s never had, yet

She knows more than we

Don’t feel sorry for

Her because she can’t miss what

She never possessed

Instead, admire her

For living beyond our small

Ideas of life


Posted on by Mary Shafer

Barb Techel and Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog visit with Bryan, the very nice producer
and co-host of The Breakfast Club on WCUB-AM 980 radio in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Okay, I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I posted here. Bad, BAD blogger. Well, I’m back, and happy to be here!

Truth is, I needed a break — from the blog, from the office, from my life — so I took one! Spent most of May recovering from a nasty case of poison ivy

My face is swollen to about half again its normal size here.
At least my eye was back open by then. It was bad. And painful. Ugh.

and working my patoot off so I could take a much-needed 10-day road trip in mid-June. Aside from my having turned 49 in the middle of it (yes, and lived to tell!), it was one of the most fun, interesting and renewing experiences I’ve had in a while.

I attended my 31st high school reunion in the company of two wonderful friends and caught up with some other great pals I’ve missed a lot:

I almost got caught in a tornado in the parking lot of a shopping center in Fort Wayne, Indiana:

One of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had.
And really, really SCARY!

Got funky with some dude in seriously red hair:

And no, I wasn’t drinking — it was only 9 a.m.!
But seriously, folks — what the HELL am I doing here?

One big highlight: I got to personally meet and hang out with author Barb Techel and the subject of both her books, Frankie, the Walk n’ Roll Dog! In fact, we even did a radio show together while I was there, about — what else? — living with disabled pets. We also made a call on a wonderful book store in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, while we were there! (Photo of the radio show at top — I’m not in it cuz I took the pic!) But here I am lovin’ on Frankie:

Is it just me, or does Frankie look scared?
I wasn’t hurting her, honest…

I also met Frankie’s sister, Kylie — a big, galumphy ol’ yella lab who I just adore — and their dad, John (who’s a weather weenie like me – yay!) We had a really great time and I hope I get back there to see them all again soon!

So that’s why I was playing hooky. Well, that and I am working on revising my book about the Delaware River flood of 1955 and getting out another of our author’s new books…

Oh, and before I forget — since this IS, after all, Almost Perfect Pets — For those of you with disabled dogs, here’s a neat little blog I ran across today. It gives some good info about how special needs dogs may be more at risk for other issues than pets without special needs. Good to know!

Hope you’re all enjoying your summer and staying cooler than we’re able to here in 100-degree-plus land. Remember your critters are as vulnerable to heat if not more than you are, so keep in mind those Three Hs:

  1. Hide from the sun.
  2. Hydrate.
  3. Hang out where it’s cool.

And there’s always that best of all Hs while you’re doing it all: Hug yer furry friend!

Teleseminar Rescheduled!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

This is a bittersweet post today. I’m very happy to report that our FREE teleseminar,

Inspired and Inspiring – The Rewards and Challenges
of Living with Disabled Pets

has been re-scheduled with Conscious Cat host Ingrid King to 8 PM EDT on Thursday, June 24th. I’ll be joining Ingrid and Barb Techel, mom to Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog, for what I’m sure will be a lively and interesting discussion about a favorite topic of anyone who follows this blog.


Not so happy is why we had to reschedule. For ten days, Ingrid struggled to save her dear tortie cat, Amber, from a digestive tract virus. During that time, they discovered Amber also suffered from a hidden heart condition that prevented full therapy for the digestive issue. The end result was that they couldn’t save Amber, and Ingrid cradled her little girl to her final sleep last week.

Now Amber has crossed the bridge, and Ingrid is very sad. The one bright spot is that she had rescued another tortie, Allegra, a few weeks earlier, so she’s not left with a big, gaping hole in her heart and nothing to fill it. I encourage you to visit Ingrid and leave some good thoughts there.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I got a call from my friend and hair stylist, Patty. She’s been going through a rough patch, learning just months ago that her mom had Stage IV, inoperable cancer that would move into her brain. Her mom lives just a few blocks away from her place, so she’s been spending a lot of time over there, going back and forth between her house (in which she has her salon, where I visit her) and her mom’s.

I always enjoy getting my hair done because we have a lot in common, we talk a lot, and the bonus is that Patty’s a critter person. She loves cats and dogs like we do, and we share that bond, as well. Late this winter, Patty told me during my hair appointment that she wanted me to say goodbye to her ancient cat, Crystal, because she was going to put her down the next day. I was horrified, because I know how much she loves this cat.

Crystal was, like, 20 years old; mostly blind, deaf, and when she couldn’t eat regular cat food anymore, Patty — who doesn’t cook — would cook up some liver and other things the vet said Crystal could still digest. But the end had come: Crystal wasn’t even moving around anymore, had begun missing the litterbox on a regular basis, and Patty told me that she had spent the evening before just holding and stroking Crystal and looking into her eyes. She said those eyes begged her for release, and I believe her.

So I said goodbye after my hair was done. Went into the living part of the house and found Crystal lying curled on a thick, soft pad, and petted her. I told her she was a good girl, that she had made her momma so happy and kept her company through so many hard times. And that we would all see her again when we passed over the bridge. It was sad, but I could see it was time (Why the hell can’t we do this with people, allow them to leave this life in some semblance of coherence and dignity?), and I was glad Patty was going to put an end to any suffering for a life that no longer had quality.

But it wasn’t to be. Apparently, Crystal had gotten the message that we were all okay with her leaving, and she decided to go on her own, just as her momma’s next work day was ending. Patty came into the kitchen to get her and take her to the vet, and she was lying peacefully on her side on her little bed, already gone. I truly believe that all of us saying goodbye gave her permission to leave without having to worry about her earth family, who she was leaving behind.

Fast forward to this week. I had been to have my hair done on Tuesday evening. It had been a few months since Crystal’s passing, and you could still feel the void. But the main thing you could feel was the impending loss of Patty’s mom. In fact, on Monday, Patty had called to cancel our appointment, believing her mom was imminently going to succumb to the cancer, which had crept into her brain and was now rendering her incapable of recognizing her daughters. She had then called back Tuesday morning, saying the in-home hospice caregivers had said there would be several more days before that happened, and if I wanted to reinstate my appointment, I could. So I did.

At this point, it wasn’t so much about the haircut, but I wanted to see Patty and just be there for her. I was sure she needed to talk, and boy, was I right. We usually have a lively, rollicking, two-way conversation while she works on my hair and I pet her sweet little half-shepherd/half-something else dog, Gia. I swear, that dog SMILES. She does.

This isn’t Gia (I don’t have a pic of her), but it is how she looks when she smiles.

She’s not usually allowed in the salon part of the house when most of Patty’s customers are there, but she knows I love Gia and it seems to be mutual, so she’s allowed to come in while I’m there. But on Tuesday, I said very little. Patty looked and sounded exhausted, but I had been right: She REALLY needed to talk. So I pretty much just listened, and was grateful for the happy distraction of Gia to buffer some of that horrible pain I could feel emanating from my friend.

I watched as, while we were waiting for my hair to process and we talked, Gia stayed very close to Patty. She seemed to be following at least the feel of the conversation, and when Patty would get close to choking up, Gia would suddenly materialize beneath her hand. That hand would automatically run itself down Gia’s furry back, and Gia’s tail would swing slowly back and forth. I was so thankful she had that dog, and Patty mentioned several times that between her own grief and trying to keep her four daughters stable during their grandma’s swift and unmistakable decline, she didn’t know what she’d do without Gia.

So it was with a huge amount of horror that I listened to Patty’s voice tell me, when I picked up the phone yesterday afternoon, that Gia was dead.

“WHAT!?” I said, incredulous. I had told her to call to just let me know when it was over with her mom, and I thought that’s what the phone call was about, but no. Turns out, her daughter had called over to Patty at her mom’s and said something was really wrong with Gia and she needed to come home. By the time she got there, Gia was already gone. No one knows what happened. Gia was only 8 years old, and in apparently perfect health. Patty thinks she may have had a heart attack or stroke, but whatever it was took her very quickly.

And so, all I could do was sit on the other end of the phone and listen to my friend sob. She has had to absorb so much loss lately, and now the one pillar of strength she had to lean on was gone. I had no words of comfort for her. I simply felt wretched and inadequate. All I could do was say how sorry I was and let her cry. And not start crying myself, because I adored that dog.

Today dawned sunny for the first time in days and days. I’d been looking forward to this, because I live for sunny days. But even though I see the sun today, I don’t feel it. There’s a little Gia-shaped cloud over my head, preventing me from fully enjoying the sun.

Those who know me well know I believe everything happens for a reason, and this doesn’t change that. But I’m having one of those days where I want to shake my fist at the sky and ask why such awful, difficult, painful things happen to such good, sweet, kind souls.

I know this is off-topic. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest. I learned when I lost my own mom five years ago that pain shared is pain halved. Thanks for taking some of it away just by letting me vent.

Merci me, Jan’s Funny Farm likes Almost Perfect!

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Merci reviewed “Almost Perfect” at Jan’s Funny Farm!

If you haven’t visited Jan’s Funny Farm before, I recommend you mosey over and give it a sniff. Lots of great stuff there for animal lovers of all sorts, and we were especially gratified to see that Jan’s pupper, Merci, decided to review Almost Perfect. Happy to report it was a hit!

Idgie Has A New Pal

Posted on by Mary Shafer

Barb Techel and her little girl, Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog, have become Skype pals of Idgie’s and mine. Wanted to share Barb’s blog post over at Joyful Paws on the subject with you.

I never would have believed how creating Almost Perfect has changed my life, especially through all the wonderful people and their pets I’ve met since then. What a blessing this has been in my life. Thanks, everyone. Just…thanks.