Demitasse, Gone But Not Forgotten

Yesterday, with a heavy heart, I brought my sweet Demitasse, aka Demi, to my veterinarians to evaluate her declining health. Having had many pets, some healthier than others, I have unfortunately become fairly good at knowing when they are in need of humane euthanasia. I just needed confirmation that my own evaluation of Demi’s status was on point. Demi was eighteen years old in March of 2021. She had many health issues which I, with help and direction from my vets, was able to medicate so that she would have some semblance of a normal life. As she aged, more problems arose, but she still ate, and seemed to be relatively comfortable.

Last week she developed a cold, along with some breathing difficulties. She was given an antibiotic injection which was touted to be effective for two weeks. At the end of the first week her symptoms returned, but with more evidence that things weren’t going to get better. My vet agreed that it was time to say goodbye to my longtime friend and lap cat. We said our farewells outside, and I left with tears and that empty feeling one gets when a life is ended, humanely, or not.

Demi was born in foster care at my brother Ray’s and his partner Pam’s home. She came into the world with three littermates, one month to the day after our mother died. We had a number of cats and a dog, but it seemed as if fate would bring us our first kitten that was somehow connected to our mother…one of many animal lovers in our family who is most responsible for our own love of critters.

Demi with litter mates…far right

Demi was a most curious kitten. We lived in a three story home, (not counting the basement) with a staircase connecting each floor. The ground level hallway had a lovely chestnut or oak staircase with spindles up the handrail and across the second floor hallway. Demi and her curiosity got too close to the edge and slipped through to crash down onto the wooden floor below. I heard the noise, ran to see what had happened, and found a somewhat dazed, but unscathed Demi on the floor. For the rest of her life, I believe her clumsiness was a result of that fall.

Demi in Hallway

Demi was intent on entering our son’s bedroom and was relentless in that pursuit. I’m not sure what the attraction was, but I suspect she just wanted to be with him. Our only lap cat, Demi was connected to her humans and enjoyed being in our company. I think I will miss that the most. The one cat who remains in our home now, didn’t get along with Demi as she aged and showed some weaknesses. We never knew if Nebbiolo was attempting to play or attack- possibly a combination of the two. Nebbiolo likes to be around us, but doesn’t like to be held and I don’t expect to ever find him on my lap.

When we retired and moved to a new home, Demi and her four cat housemates and two dog housemates came with us. They all adjusted nicely to the one story home. My husband created a small room at the bottom of the cellar steps to house the litter pans. Demi welcomed two more young cats, and our animal population exploded to seven cats and two dogs. I can say with no hesitation that seven is not a great number of cats to have in a small house. One by one, all have met the same fate as Demi. I have had fourteen beloved pets humanely euthanized. This is the price we pay for loving animals. In most cases we outlive them.

Demi was diagnosed with her first disease, stomatitis, an autoimmune disease which affects and inflames the gums and causes cats to lose teeth. Demi eventually only had one tooth, which made it extremely easy to pill her. I had no fear sticking my hands into her mouth. Her jaw was quite strong, but never caused me to stop providing her prednisolone. It is a drug which calmed the irritation in her mouth, but would eventually help lead to her demise. I opted for quality, not quantity, but that said, eighteen years is a good age for a cat to reach.

Her next issue was hyperthyroidism. This required twice daily syringes of methimazole. Again, it was easy to get drugs into Demi. For that I am thankful. Developing urinary infections was also a problem. We made adjustments to diet and gave her UT Strength Feline Pro. These had to be cut into eight small pieces and yes, I pilled all eight pieces twice daily. She also took Foriflora, a kitty probiotic, and Atopica, another medicine for her stomatitis. Once her fur started to look unhealthy, I added Omega-3 oil to her food. Not long ago we also started once daily Cerenia, along with weekly vet visits for subcutaneous fluids. As all these applications sometimes felt overwhelming to administer, I reminded myself of that sweet time when she would voluntarily jump onto my lap for a visit. Towards the end she also slept with me. It seems as if all my cats let me know their departure was near by staying close through the night. One of my cats actually sat close to my head on my pillow.

Some of Demi’s less enchanting behaviors included begging for food from us while we ate. She positioned herself dangerously close to serving dishes and also our dinner plates. One particular demonstration of her will to succeed included her swooping down on one of my pan seared scallops and running off with it. She had me to contend with, though, and I managed to retrieve it quickly. I ‘kissed it up to God’ and ate it myself! Demi actually had bits of my pork chop the last meal she ate. Her begging was a way to let me know she was still interested in eating. One of my barometers for questioning health and life for my pets has always been appetite. Once they stop eating I must face the inevitable. Demi tried, but couldn’t eat on her last morning. I am glad she had some pork chop the night before.

As I have written before, in reference to my beloved dog Bella, who left me less than a year ago, it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved. Demi will remain with me in my memories of my first kitten. I loved her and think it may have been mutual. She joins all my other departed pets on a memorial wall. Photographs and paintings of pets are a daily reminder of all the love they gave me.

Demi on the Pet Memorial Wall

Posted in Cats, humane euthanasia, pets, Time for Art | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Perching Crows

It’s been a while since I have done anything creative. Daily visits from a Crow trio finally motivated me to use some of the many photographs I have taken of them. This mixed media collage features two of the three who were actually sitting atop a chalet bird feeder. They enjoy peanuts and also suet on the chalet.

Perching Anerican Crows
Watercolor, Colored Pencil, Collage. Marker, Ebony Pencil

Posted in birdfeeders, Birds, collage, Colored Pencils, Crows, Time for Art, watercolor, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Better To Have Loved

After a week of trying to get my sweet dog, Bella, back to a comfortable existence, she lost her battle. Still not sure what caused her rapid decline, I knew I had to make the decision to euthanize her. Having done this previously for three other dogs and nine cats did not make it any easier.

Bella lived and loved for fifteen years. She began her life in Florida, where the Humane Society rescued her and her litter mates. My dear cousin, Joan, then director of this facility in Vero Beach, fostered two of the puppies. Once she sent me a photograph of Bella, it was a done deal. Bella bid farewell to her brother Oliver and flew to New Jersey with Joan in a soft carrier under Joan’s seat. A true ambassador for rescue dogs, Bella behaved better than some children and won the hearts of everyone who met her.

Bella 2005 Vero Beach FL

Once in NJ, Bella was referred to as the ‘Housewarming Dog’ and the ‘Retirement Dog.’ She joined an aging and surly Ferris and a number of cats in our household. The most memorable story of Bella’s arrival was her attraction to fireflies. She jumped around catching them with remarkable agility. Unfortunately they made her ill, having a rather unpleasant bout of iridescent green diarrhea. She recovered with the help of Pepto Bismol. Ferris was excited to have a playmate and showed a renewed interested in living. They were inseparable.

Bella lived with us in NJ until 2007 when we moved to the Finger Lakes region of NY. She joined Ferris and our then five cats, Venus, Berio, Fiona, Demitasse, and Xena in the move. They all somehow adjusted to a much smaller house and new surroundings. Bella loved to run in the yard after squirrels, chipmunks, and Frisbees once our backyard fence was installed. She and Ferris were walked together in the front yard, on leash, through snow, rain, and occasional sunshine. Eventually Ferris left this planet, and Bella lived the rest of her life as the only dog.

Bella went to classes at the SPCA of Tompkins County. She learned quickly, but was hesitant to play with the larger dogs. We opted for the small dog group where she was more comfortable, but not overly willing to play. I suppose she was used to Ferris, who was much smaller than even a young Bella.

Over the years Bella and her brother, Oliver were reunited when Joan visited NY. Oliver is very well trained and accompanied Joan on many business trips requiring plane rides. We were unsure that they would remember one another since they were about four months old the last time they were together. There was almost immediate acceptance upon the usual on leash sniffing in a neutral area. Bella had no problem sharing space with Oliver.

Bella and her brother Oliver

Bella joined me on many walks to the state park close to our home. We walked more than two miles each day, both becoming more fit. When Bella started to show signs of stress associated with both her hip dysplasia and arthritis during our walks, it was necessary to end them. It felt unnatural to go to the park without her. Unfortunately, a few too many pounds crept back on me, but at some point I should be able to return to the activity with memories of my buddy beside me.

Bella literally spent all her time with me. Particularly fond of food, Bella would plant herself under my feet whenever I was in the kitchen. She was a veteran beggar, always ready for a taste from our plates. She received a low calorie snack upon successfully completing her business outside. Bella NEVER had an accident inside our house…a stark contrast to her former housemate, Ferris. She never experienced being boarded, as we took her everywhere we went. Friends and family generously allowed her in their homes, and although a bit nervous, she would eventually settle down. Car rides were not her favorite, as she sat close to the window, panting all the way. Even mild drugs would not calm her down enough to relax during journeys.

Going to her groomer was also not a welcomed activity. Shaggy Dog Grooming made her beautiful for the thirteen years we have lived in NY. Deej Erb has the patience of a saint, and always went the extra mile to accommodate her moods. A few weeks ago, Bella was the most uncooperative. She still came home looking beautiful- something I am grateful for. Her visits to the vet were also cause for nerves and stress. The last week of her life she spent many hours at Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital receiving IV fluids and medicine. She actually became accustomed to the procedure and had a few good days following her excellent care.

Bella after spa day

Sadly, once I felt all quality of her life was gone, and her ability to stand, drink, and eat was also quickly absent, I made the decision to humanely euthanize her. The process took place outdoors, in my presence, with one of her vets, a vet tech and my husband. We said a tearful goodbye. I held her head and told her how much I loved her, and thanked her for being such a wonderful companion for fifteen years.

Saying goodbye

So, though this was not how I was hoping the week would go, Bella had different plans. I will always remember her as a best friend. Always there for me, always giving unconditional love, she will remain in my heart forever. RIP sweet Bella. We shall meet again. Better to have loved and lost you, than to have never loved you at all.

Posted in companion dogs, rescue dogs, dog training, dog walking, Dogs, humane euthanasia | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sometimes You Can’t Take It With You, Part 2

In a previous post I explained the origins of a number of ceramic reliefs I created while a senior in college at Glassboro State College, in NJ. Upon locating slides of said sculptures, I was under the impression that four were made. Somehow boxes of these bulky, heavy, ceramic puzzle pieces followed me to my present address. As my husband attempted to clean up and organize our basement, we decided that it might be time for this collection to go.

Torn with the decision to trash them, or find some way to use them, he painstakingly dragged them up a flight of stairs and into the garage. I temporarily thought of using the individual pieces as a surface for my collages. In a last attempt to do something with them that would honor their earlier conceived purpose, I contacted a friend, who in addition to many artistic endeavors, is a local mosaic artist. In order for her to view them and determine if she could use them, we assembled them outdoors in our yard. It was then, that I realized I had created six, not four, relief sculptures.

The first piece, and only work to be mounted into cement with an angle iron frame, was traded for a silver cast ring. The new owner of the piece was the esteemed Dr. John Ottiano, a professor of Art at what was then Glassboro State College (now Rowan University.) He erected the relief in his backyard garden in his Pitman, NJ home. It overlooked the swimming pool, where I suppose, many of his friends, family and guests were able to see it. I recently received a response to my initial post from one such person who remembered the piece from a time long ago. He spent happy times swimming in the Ottiano pool as a child. A neighbor to the Ottiano family, he also had memories of the many pieces of art at this home. It was nice to hear something about one of my creations. Sadly I have no photograph of the relief at that location, and don’t know if it is still there. Luckily, I did photograph it before then. Take a look, below. I know John and Terry Ottiano (both deceased,) have children, still living, who might have some photographs. I will continue to search for them and have high hopes!

The remaining five pieces are resting comfortably in our backyard. I will probably keep the rectangular relief and continue to hope my friend will utilize some or all of the rest. These are all sized about 4′ x 8′, stoneware, and stained with oxides. One piece was missing, but I found a pretty close match in a piece of slate in our yard. There is also one extra piece, which doesn’t seem to fit anywhere. Considering these are 48 years old, I consider myself lucky to have them at all. It was also a pleasant surprise to find two additional sculptures, since I only had slides of four.

Posted in Dr. John Ottiano, Glassboro State College Art Dept, Oxide Stains, Relief Sculpture, Stoneware Clay, Time for Art | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dollmaking for One Year & the Mixed Media Collages Inspired by Each Doll

Dolls

Collages
Posted in angels, Art, Bees, Birds, Cats, Chickens, collage, Colored Pencils, crafts, Crows, Dogs, dollmaking, elephant, illustration, Landscape, machine quilting, magazine clippings, markers, Mixed Media, sewing, Time for Art, watercolor, watercolor gouache | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bird Dog Doll and Collage

Here’s the last doll and doll related mixed media collage for a while. My experience with A Doll Pattern A Month Circle over the past year has been both a challenge and a motivation to take the time to make art and craft. The next part of this exploration will hopefully include very short stories and/or poems about the dolls. I have no idea how, or if, these stories will relate to each other in my proposed book. This project is for my grandchildren. The oldest has just learned to read, but prefers playing video games. I cannot imagine my childhood without trips to the library and hours of reading. Hoping my stories and images will spark a similar interest for her and my grandson, once he is old enough to read.

Posted in collage, Colored Pencils, crafts, Dogs, dollmaking, illustration, magazine clippings, markers, Mixed Media, Time for Art, watercolor, watercolor gouache | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

See Sally Swing

Sally, The Swinging Doll and her mixed media collage.

Posted in collage, Colored Pencils, crafts, dollmaking, dolls, illustration, magazine clippings, markers, Mixed Media, sewing, Time for Art, watercolor, watercolor gouache | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bee Doll and Collage

In hopes of creating a storybook using my doll collages as illustrations, I felt I needed a Bee doll to connect all the flowers that surround each doll. Since this book is basically only for my grandchildren, who are young, I am working on a sensible explanation of pollination for them to understand the importance of keeping our bees alive. It will be a short description, focusing on plant parts. This doll pattern was created by me, which explains its imperfections!

Posted in Bees, collage, Colored Pencils, crafts, dollmaking, dolls, illustration, magazine clippings, markers, Mixed Media, sewing, watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Dolls (patterns available at: dolls.joyismynewart.com

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Bernice Angel With Babushka & Cat Doll and Collage

Bernice Angel With Babushka & Cat Doll
Pattern available at: dolls.joyismynewart.com
Bernice Angel With Babushka & Cat Mixed Media Collage
Posted in Cats, collage, Colored Pencils, dollmaking, dolls, illustration, Mixed Media, Time for Art, watercolor, watercolor gouache | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment