Vets

Not Nicky.

After my father killed himself in 1999 I figured nothing bad would happen for awhile, as if I deserved a “pass” from any more pain. Of course I was wrong. I got divorced four months later and lost my biggest client.

I realize that most things that happen during my life are not about me. My father took his own life. I didn't cause that to happen, but certainly it effected me deeply, and still does. The thing is I can't help but feel a bit, well pissed when one thing after another seems to go down the drain. I asked Sam if we were being foolish to think that things were going to get better “some day.” Maybe we should just realize that life pretty much sucks, is difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking and has moments, just moments of good stuff to keep us from offing ourselves, too.

Last month after Bob died, I thought that maybe we were done with long trips to Vet Oncologists, done with digging the deep financial hole to provide Bob with the care he needed, done with heartbreak over our cats. Bob was an old cat with FIV+, two kinds of cancer and half a liver. Our next youngest cat is eleven, so certainly they would be fine for many years to come. I really wanted to take a deep breath and relax, focus on the working out some behavioral issues with the cats and get the foster cats adopted.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky, this morning, getting ready to roll over and show me his belly.

I nagged at Sam to take Nicky to the Vet. I was fed up watching the cat urinate on the floor, right in front of his litter pan, often not caring if we were watching him do it. We knew it might be due to the stress in the house and the cats jockeying for position in the cat hierarchy with Bob being gone, but due diligence dictated that Nicky should be seen by Dr. Larry.

I honestly thought Nicky had a urinary tract infection or might be in the early stages of hypothyroid because he drank a lot of water (and I knew his blood sugar was normal so it wasn't diabetes).

The blood work came back and it indicated that Nicky might be in early stages of renal (kidney) failure. The next morning, Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat just posted an article by Dr. Darren Hawks about Kidney Failure that helped me understand what was possibly going on. It was devastating news, but since we caught it early, Nicky had a chance to live many more good years. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. He always gives us "lovey-dovey" looks.

But Dr. Larry wanted to do a sonogram to look at Nicky's kidneys. Sam agreed and the procedure was done yesterday afternoon. I wasn't worried. I thought we had that pass to not get bad news-Nicky is just eleven, right? He gets a raw diet and fresh spring water not our yucky well water. Sure he had some kidney issue, but maybe he just needed some antibiotics?

I was sitting at my computer, working on a project. I'd had a lousy day. An acquaintance of mine died. He was only 52 years old. He had a massive stroke last week and died on Monday morning. I had some very interesting times with him and I liked him even though he seemed to bring out the worst in my childhood friend, MaryEllen, who was dating him in those days. Now she's planning his funeral. I couldn't help but feel the weight of the ticking clock of my own life. How much time did I have left? I'm only two years younger than he was and a lot of people don't even get to be my age. I can't take it for granted I have tomorrow. It gave me pause.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rub Mah Belleh.

Sam stood in the doorway to my office. He didn't look so good, but we've both been in fairly bad moods for lots of reasons lately. He started to talk about Nicky. He must have just gotten off the phone with Dr. Larry. They found a growth on one of Nicky's kidneys-which were both showing signs of degeneration. They found lymph nodes that were enlarged, but it wasn't renal disease, it might be CANCER.

FU@KING CANCER.

Mesenteric Lymphoma. The same thing that JUST KILLED BOB.

When I heard “lymphoma” my head buzzed and my stomach flipped. I felt like I couldn't breathe for a second. No. No. NOT NICKY. NO!

They can't be certain until they do EXPLORATORY SURGERY. Maybe it's something else? Maybe it's some sort of reaction to something else? I don't know what else it COULD BE other than some sort of cancer!!!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky's view of the world is often upside down.

For the handful of you who've met Nicky, you know he's our BIG 20 pound boy who would rather lay in your arms, belly up, like a baby or get tummy rubs than do just about anything else at all. Nicky is a big sweetheart who LOVES everyone. He and his sister...and then I thought about Nora...are inseparable. She wouldn't survive without her big brother. Oh my GOD..what is happening to my cats?! We found this out just because Nicky was drinking too much water and peeing outside the litter pan. That was all we had for symptoms.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Skritches from mama.

I really thought we had more time. Now we have to scrounge for money. Nicky must have the surgery, but we are tapped out. We gave all that we had, and more, for Bob, thinking we could recover in time for the next cat health issue, but we were wrong.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. We love you, Nicky!

Later that night, after we picked up Nicky from the Vet and brought him home, I half jokingly said to Sam that I was feeling suicidal and asked him if he was, too, and he said, yes. Then he said, gesturing to the cats, but they would suffer if we died and I answered simply, we'll just take them with us when we go.

I guess we didn't get that pass we were hoping for. We'll do our best for Nicky. I don't know what that means. It's one step at a time. We need to confirm that it's lymphoma. We need to sort out what Nicky's options are and how we can provide for him. These are dark days indeed and this is just the beginning of a very sad journey for one of our beloved cats.

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Snowshoe Sisters-Giving Thanks

Sally and Clare were barely busted out of Henry County and spayed, before Sally's sutures started to rupture and she got a hernia. Foster mom, Bobbie, got her to the Vet right away. He said it had to be fixed and was one of the worst hernias he'd seen. We didn't hesitate in saying, YES, to going forward with the surgery. Bobbie left Sally's sister, Clare with Sally at the Vet so the two would not be alone, even for a day.

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. Sally's herniated belly boo-boo!

By the next afternoon, the girls were home. Sally was recovering slowly and had to wear the “cone of shame” for about a day so she wouldn't tug her sutures out. She did well and got back on her paws quickly.

In the meantime, I asked for some help. The girls didn't have any toys and were clearly itching to play. Miss Memory and Miss Emily jumped at the chance to help and sent a VERY NICE selection of toys. The girls LOVED THEM!

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. Nom nom nom nom nom

The only problem was that Sally is not very good at sharing. She'd grab up the toys and guard over them, growling at her sister if she came near. Sally also eats FAST and jumps into Clare's dish if Bobbie isn't watching them during meal time. Okay, so maybe Sally is a bit of a brat OR she just never had toys before and good food, so maybe this is just a passing phase?

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes.Are you gonna eat that?

Bobbie reported that the girls are very friendly. Sally more outgoing, Clare more reserved. They're both full of energy and want to play, over sitting in Bobbie's lap, but they do like their head skritches and pets.

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. Clare with her toys-until Sally steals them away!

A few days ago, the girls started to have very stinky poo and were having lots of accidents all over the carpeting! Bobbie took a stool sample to the vet and sure enough it was positive for Coccidia. This is why when you foster like Bobbie does, you MUST keep the foster cats separate from your own cats. Coccidia is very contagious and is spread through the litter pan so good thing Bobbie didn't let her cats share the girl's pan!

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes Don't even think about taking Sally's favorite toy!

It was touch and go for a few days. The girls were having lots of accidents and Bobbie was being very gracious about having to clean it up. I shipped her some things to help with neutralizing the odors and helping clean up. I sent her some Cat Attract cat litter to see if the girls would stop having accidents if that was added to the litter. I told Bobbie it might be that the girls just didn't feel well and that hopefully they would stop going outside the litter pan as soon as they felt better.

Two days later...the girls stopped their inappropriate behavior as their stool began to firm back up and clearly they were feeling better. This is yet another example of why it's so important to get your cat to the vet when it inappropriately eliminates!

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©2011 Bobbie Coker of Cats-Goats-Quotes. The snowshoe sistahs!

The girls are doing well and having loads of fun with all their toys. Thank you very much to Memory & Emily for their generosity and kindness. Bobbie and I appreciate your help and I know the girls are passing the days until they come to Connecticut with joy in their hearts with all those good toys to play with and a belly full of nom-noms.

ME-OW!

Not on My Watch: Snowshoe Sisters-Saved!

I do not like to pick and choose who I rescue because I know whoever I say yes to, means others don't get a rescue and may not live. It makes me sick that I have to be faced with this choice. If I choose cats I feel are very adoptable, then they get adopted quickly and make room to save more, though sometimes I just have to save ones like Nigel and Basil, who had no hope of survival, but weren't any less deserving.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Clare.

Today I chose ID#9/26-3728 and 3729, two Snowshoe sisters. I thought they were well into adulthood, but it turns out they are just 7-8 months old. They have fleas. Of course, they're not spayed. I don't know where they came from, but they are sweet, so they knew life with a family, at least for awhile. I don't know if there is a little girl, crying somewhere, missing her kitties because her parents couldn't afford their care or if some cruel so-and-so didn't like them any more because they weren't cute little kittens and dumped them at the shelter two days ago. I just know they needed help.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Sally.

Today they got it.

They are named Sally and Clare. They are getting all their vaccines and they already tested negative/negative for FeLV and FIV+. They are getting spayed, too. It will be a BIG day for them, but after that they go to their Aunt Bobbie's house to rest and recover. Bobbie took in Phil, Nigel and Basil, MacGruber and others. She is a great foster mom and I was very glad she could offer her home to help these cats.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Clare is ready to be busted out of her cage now!

My sister-shelter, Animals in Distress, offered them a place to live once they are ready to leave Georgia. I have a feeling they won't be in the shelter for very long-these cats are, I'm told, very sweet and cute. It feels good to know they're safe, but there's a bittersweet quality to this small success.

Right now the girls are being prepped to be spayed thanks to the great work Doc Thomas does at Noahs Ark. Thanks to Bobby, for running to get them with no notice, for paying their bill for now and even for prepping them for surgery. Without these good people, this rescue would not have happened.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Silly siamese sisters!

I hate that I can't do more. I left behind all the others who I posted about this morning. I pray people find it in their heart to step forward and help these other cats. It's just so wrong that so many will die for no good reason.

There has to be a way to do more. I just have to find a way.

Foster Cat Journal: Day One. The Tiny Miracles

Mama weighs just over five pounds. She's skin and bones on her young frame. The Vet determined she is between 9 months and 1 year old-the same age as Cara. I can't imagine a cat that young having SIX kittens, but it happens all the time. I feel sick about it. That poor creature, trying to survive in what was, up until recently, a truly heartless world.

She has an haunted quality to her expression that speaks volumes of what she has suffered. Though she is malnourished herself, she provides for her newborns as they struggle for access to the warm milk that sustains them.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Just rescued and on the way to the Vet. I wonder what this mama thinks will happen to her now?

Yesterday we prepared ourselves that this Mother would have to die based on what we heard from the shelter. She wasn't eating-for days. She was depressed, lethargic. What was wrong with her could have been the end of her.

Once she and her babies were in foster care, Mama began to EAT and eat well. It will take time for her to regain her strength as her hind end is red and swollen from many days of diarrhea. She has a small abscess on her tail that the Vet thinks is a self inflicted bite wound from giving birth. She may have been tugging at one of the kittens as they were being born and she bit her tail by accident. The wound is not bad and she really shouldn't have antibiotics just yet, so Maria will keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't get infected.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford.

Overall we were VERY LUCKY-SO FAR. Mama is in rather good shape, considering. They did a stool sample on her and it was negative for parasites. She had no fleas. Maybe she knew life in a home for a time, but they got rid of her a few days after she gave birth.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Lunchtime rush is on.

Her kittens were in good shape, again, for now! Maria and I are both terrified of them coming down with the you-know-what-plague that seems to hit every cat that comes out of a shelter. It's wait and see. I find I am a bit reluctant to give them names-that said, should the worst happen, maybe they should have the dignity of having a name before they pass away? I hope it's not something we will meed to worry about. Right now, they're OK, getting fed and mostly sleeping in a big pile with each other-little orange puff balls.

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©2011 Maria S. Little orange puff balls.

I can't get over their orangey-goodness. I wish I could give them all kisses and welcome them to the world. Happy Belated Birthday to you my sweet babies!

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©2011 Maria S. Squee!

Taking on seven new foster cats will require some funding. I'd like to start raising donations for them so we'll have it set aside when they need it-or in case of an emergency! I'm using a low cost S/N clinic, but even with that, everything that has to be done will be times seven cats.

If you can help this little pumpkin patch, your donation is tax deductible as all the money goes to my non-profit, 501(c)3 corporation, Kitten Associates. Any overages that we don't use for this family, will be used to provide food and vet care for the other cats in our program.

If you want to send a donation DIRECTLY through to PayPal, then we will get 100% of your donation IF you take the following steps:

1. Log in to YOUR PayPal Account

2. Select the tab: SEND MONEY (on the top of the page)

3. To: info@kittenassociates.org, Fill in Amount, then choose the PERSONAL tab below where you fill in the amount and select: THIS MONEY IS BEING SENT AS A: GIFT

4. Press "continue" to finish the payment transfer

Checks can be made out to: Kitten Associates. Please note: Bob's Angels on your check and mail to: P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354

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©2011 Maria S. Just a bag of bones today...but one day she will be plump and happy again...one day soon.

And now for some FUN. We need names! I'm open to suggestions-I may not use the names you offer, but let's give it a shot. We need a name for Mama and we have FIVE BOYS AND ONE GIRL (we think) who need names, too. They should all have names in honor of Bob. Here are his names and nicknames: Robert J. Dole, Bob Dole, Baba-D, Bobbie Tinkleberry (hee hee). Post a comment here with your suggestions or visit our Facebook page and leave a comment there.

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©2011 Maria S. Sweet dreams little ones. Grow big and strong!

Not on My Watch: Bobby's Angels

In honor of my beloved, Bob, who died 12 days ago, I decided to rescue a cat. When I found out about an orange kitty stuck in a tiny cage at Henry County, sick and starving with six tiny kittens stripping her of any energy she has left, I knew I met “the one” that needed my help. In this case, it turned out to be “the seven” who needed me.

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©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. My darling, Bob.

I'm VERY VERY LUCKY I have good friends who support my rescue “habit.” Over the course of this morning and afternoon, I was able to put together a number of plans, which included the dreaded “worse case scenario.” They told us that Mama “was not doing well” and not eating. That could mean a million different things. Is it as simple as she's scared and unhappy? Is she getting an upper respiratory infection? Or is something deeply wrong with her? Something the Vet can't correct? Something VERY costly to cure?

I had to ask everyone on our team if they would be able to handle it if Mama had to be euthanized. I didn't even want to ask. Bobby didn't even bat an eye. He is willing to be our warrior. I knew I could count on him. Maria found a backup foster home in case the babies have to be bottle fed. Then Connie, understanding the risk of pulling a sick cat from a shelter, said that her group, Animals in Distress, would help us with initial vetting!

How could I say no?

So I didn't!

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Then we all started to panic, worrying about the worst case...would Mama be OK?

Bobby got her out of Henry at 4pm. An hour later, I found out the good news-MAMA IS NEGATIVE/NEGATIVE for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia!!!!!

But why wasn't she eating?

I don't have complete details yet, but Mama has a small abscess on the base of her tail. That has been treated. Otherwise they thought she was in VERY GOOD overall condition. I don't even know how old she is or the birthday of her six little kittens. All I know is she is SAFE and will be in a warm, clean room with plenty of good food to eat. Hopefully, once she settles down, she will want to eat. She won't need to use a tiny litter pan as a place to rest. She'll have a nice, soft bed. She'll have the companionship of someone who loves cats deeply and hopefully one day, when they are all old enough, they will come to my home and be fostered here.

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We don't even know if we have six boys or a mix of sexes. We barely even know what they look like. All that matters is that they're a lovely orange, perhaps more rich and deep in tone than Bob, but it works for me. I am so VERY HAPPY to be able to have been part of saving their lives. It softens the pain of losing Bob, just a little bit.

Today is the beginning of their story with us and unlike Bob, they will have a great start with everything they need so they'll never have to get FIV+ and suffer through a sad end the way Bob did.

I think Bob sent this family to me. I just found out they were born the day he died.

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Not on My Watch: Orange Mama + 6 in Dire Situation

Here we are again...in that same, familiar place. Another Mama cat and her six newborn kittens are in DIRE NEED OF RESCUE by a GA LICENSED RESCUE ORGANIZATION---that needle in a haystack so difficult to find.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant.

Apparently, Mama isn't eating. She gave birth a few days ago and hasn't eaten since. As she grows weaker she is at high risk of getting SICK, then she will be put down, along with her innocent babies. This breaks my heart especially because being orange, they make me think of Bob and how much I'd like to rescue them in his honor.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant.

There are many obstacles-the big one is what is wrong with mama? If she is VERY SICK she may need to be put down. Can I make that choice? Can Bobby, who will have to pick her up, be in the room with her. What will that do to him? What about the kittens? Are they going to be sick, too? Will this be another year long many thousands of dollars vet bill? What if Maria has to bottle feed the babies? She can't! She has to work!

I'm hoping that by posting this, a GA Licensed Rescue group will see it and call Betsy Merchant or Gerri Yoder, who is the Director at Henry County Care & Control, and save this family TODAY! Contact info at end of post.

THIS IS DIRECTLY FROM BETSY-------------------------

This precious young little Mama is in dire shape. We cannot find anything she will eat. She is skin and bones and literally wasting away here while desperately trying to care for her 6 newborns.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant.

We have given her every type of canned and dry chow and she just will not eat any of it. I have boiled some chicken to take tomorrow and try but we are running out of time. She is so thin, and she cannot keep feeding her tiny tots.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant.

PLEASE spare them, we need rescues help NOW!

Mama+6 ID# 9/10-1913

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©2011 Betsy Merchant.

**Please Note; When forwarding, crossposting, or re-posting I ask that you leave this message intact exactly as it was written by me. I do not give permission to post my message, part of my message, or my photographs on Craig's List or FACEBOOK. Thank you for your help and support, and for respecting my wishes.**

Betsy Merchant~

We are very rescue friendly and are more than happy to work with any rescue group as long as the group has a valid Georgia Department of Agriculture license! Any rescue group, whether in or out of state, that takes pets from Georgia shelters, is required, by Georgia law, to have a rescue license issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Animal Protection Division. Having tax exempt status is not the same as a license. For more information on obtaining a license, please call (404) 656-4914.

Contact:

mystiblu@bellsouth.net

Henry County Animal Care and Control

527 Hampton Street

McDonough, Georgia 30253

(770) 288-7401

http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/GA67.html

Our Hours:

Monday-Friday: 9 am-4:30 pm

Saturday: 9 am-1 pm

Sunday: Closed

County Observed Holidays: Closed

The shelter is located at 527 Hampton Street in McDonough. We are located south of Atlanta off I-75. Take exit 218 and head east on 20/81 toward McDonough. Our address is 527 Hwy 20/81 East.

For all other information regarding ordinances, county codes, and other functions of Henry County Animal Care and Control please visit www.hcacc.org

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BlogPaws 2011: The Final Hours & Hurricane Irene.

It's a good thing I was at a conference full of pet lovers because sure enough Dorian Wagner, of Your Daily Cute, who had been playing with one of the kittens, jumped up when I said I needed a Vet and said she knew where to find one. She made a quick call and the Vet popped her head up from across the room, waving over the top of a low room divider. We hustled BlueBelle over to her. She was very calm and relaxed, which was the polar opposite to how I was feeling. She was perfectly willing to asses BlueBelle's incision.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Kate Benjamin and BlueBelle.

She gently turned BlueBelle over and looked at her little belly. There was a bright red, open area. We told her about the crappy spay surgery. She said she thought that the glue (the GLUE?) had failed and popped the incision open, but that there should have been stitches inside the kitten that would hold her abdomen closed. She was concerned about infection and the wound opening further. I asked what I could do and she said to find some Crazy Glue!

The clock is ticking. We have to leave for dinner soon. Bobby and Maria are really tired and hungry. I just won a big award, but now I must find Crazy Glue in a hotel that has a tiny gift shop and NO OTHER SHOPS anywhere close by.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ingrid with Truffles.

The front desk offered me a dried up tube that we couldn't even get the top off of, so I tried the gift shop. They DID have some glue! Okay! Great! I ran over to the Vet and the small gathering of ladies around the kitten. Now the Vet says she really needs some sterile saline solution, some betadine and a syringe with no needle. Yeah. I can get that...WHERE CAN I GET THAT? My mind is spinning! I have to HURRY. Someone figures out there is a drug store a few miles away. It's rush hour in the D.C. area. We have no idea where we are going, but I grab Sam and he says he will drive me over to get the things we need. Meanwhile there are about 20 people wondering what is going on and some of them have grumbling bellies. Thankfully, Ingrid King, said she would call the restaurant and change the reservation! WHEW...okay...time to RUN!

But wait...can I get the first aid kit from the front desk? Sure! I was running back and forth between the front desk, the vet, the gift shop, Bobby & Maria and Ingrid. My head was getting ready to spin off my neck. There was nothing much in the kit. The woman at the front desk said that the night before had been a busy night for injuries in the hotel and that the kit was mostly empty!! Still, I brought it over for the Vet to take a look though..but it was sorely lacking so I returned it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Snack time in the hotel room!

We got an address for a local pharmacy and just hoped for the best. Sam started driving and the GPS wanted us to go in a different direction than the point by point directions we had from GoogleMaps. Crap! What to do? We just followed the GPS hoping it wouldn't route us into a lake.

The traffic was TERRIBLE. No one was moving. Tick, tick, tick...HURRY! I wanted to JUMP OUT OF MY SKIN! It seemed like the drivers in front of us had cotton shoved in their brain hole because they were driving really slowly and they wouldn't try to cross traffic to turn into the parking lot!

Once we got into the lot, it was packed full of cars. Sam told me to go into the store and he would circle around.

It took me a few minutes to find most everything, but I had to wait for someone to help me with the syringe, so I stood there on line, tapping my leg, wishing they would HURRY already!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Time to head to Connecticut.

I got what I needed...$34 for this? Geez! Not complaining, but really? I jumped into the car and Sam sped off. Traffic back to the hotel wasn't as bad. My cell phone rang “where are you? we have another kitten that needs help!”

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Tree removal trucks getting into position before Hurricane Irene hits.

SHIT!

We got back to the hotel and the Vet said she wanted the First Aid Kit after all...so I ran back to get it...and she needed a place to work on the kittens. Truffles incision looked infected and needed to be cleaned out, too. We agreed to go to my hotel room so she could work on the bathroom counter.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Moments after arriving in their new home.

We loaded up all the cats, which saddened all the cat lady bloggers. They were not deterred. Many of them came upstairs with us! Before anything was done we had to promise not to say who the Vet was because like everyone at the conference, she was licensed in another state-even though she was just going to clean out a wound and put a drop of glue on the skin. I left her to do her thing while a few of the ladies watched the procedure. I needed to SIT DOWN and try to spend some time with Bobby and Maria, who were clearly energized by all that was going on, but I knew they needed to eat and have a chance to relax.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blaze, Peri and Jack, ready to play.

The kittens did great. Their bellies patched up and looking better, the Vet excused herself and I thanked her profusely as she left our room! Where could I get a housecall in a hotel for kittens that needed help-RIGHT HERE! How lucky we were! We had antibiotics with us that the kittens were already getting so we kept them on their meds. We let them out of the cat carrier to run around in the hotel room while we all went out for dinner-at last! Everything was going to be ok now, right?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. BlueBelle is doing fine now.

And it was...we had dinner with lots of PETTIE-WINNING cat lady bloggers, along with Maria, Bobby & Sam. We had a great time, great food, but sadly some of us had Hurricane Irene on our minds. Sam and I reluctantly decided we needed to leave early in the morning. Time was running out. We'd had our one day at BlogPaws and asking for another would potentially put us in peril...and the kittens, too, so we decided to call it a night.

Instead of going to bed, everyone came back up to our room to play with the kittens some more! Kate was on her belly, shooting videos of the kittens playing. Amberly took a huge stinky poop (we had a litter pan on hand) and we couldn't open the windows! No one cared. They were all cooing and laughing. I'd forgotten that I'm used to being around kittens most of the time and for them, it was more of a rare treat. It was really lovely to sit on the floor and watch the kittens and watch the joy and the delight on everyone's faces.

We bid everyone good night. We had to pack. Bobby & Maria still had 10 more miles to drive before they could get some sleep. For awhile I forgot about all my problems and what was waiting for me back home. It was nice, but far too short of a break. We got packed and set the alarm. Bobby & Maria would return in the morning with the kittens and we'd load up the car and head for home.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Amberly, always lovely and ready to chat wtih me.

Sam and I were very tired. The morning came too early, but we got ourselves out of bed. I went down to the car to start loading it up. I set up the dog crates where the cats would be traveling. I realized we didn't have enough room in the car for everything we had, so I made some changes so we could make it all fit.

Bobby & Maria were right on time. We let the kittens out so they could run around while we had breakfast. It was just the four of us eating, while BlogPaws continued on. The sky was slate gray and the winds were starting to pick up. I knew we had to leave soon. Irene was nearby.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the many reasons the power was out. This is across Route 34, a main road in our town.

I was very sad to leave. I gave Bobby & Maria a big hug goodbye. We'd only just met a less than 12 hours before. We loaded the kittens into the car and began our trip home, deciding to take a longer route, away from the coast. It added an hour to the drive, but in the end, it was the right thing to do. We missed some flooding and a few tornadoes. The entire drive home we hit bands of violent rain, but they only lasted a minute or two. I looked the weather radar and we were literally skirting the edge of the storm the entire drive home.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A common sight around Newtown, CT.

Seven hours later, we pulled into the driveway. I unlocked the door. I just wanted to see if Bob was still with us. I hadn't had an update on him and I was worried. Sure enough, Bob was sitting on his favorite red chair, looking a little more frail, but still with us. Once I knew he was ok, we worked on getting the kittens settled and getting ourselves unpacked.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Housatonic River flooded quickly. If you look carefully, in the center of the image, you can see a home. It's built on stilts because the river often floods, but not as bad as this time around.

Irene swept into town and took with it, many of our lovely trees. 80 percent of the town went dark. Almost a week later, the power is still out in 26 percent of the homes. We were VERY LUCKY our power didn't go out. Many of the roads were impassable, not marked that trees were down, so getting around has been tough. My car is STILL in the SHOP because they lost power and phones. We drove past there and you can see my car on a lift in one of the bays. We haven't gone out much and we offered shelter to all our power-less friends, but they are doing fine without and hopefully things will be getting back to normal again soon.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Pootatuck River was raging in downtown Sandy Hook, CT.

Now that I can look back, I know going to BlogPaws was the right thing for me to do. I'm glad I didn't miss out on the entire conference and I left yearning for more...for more connection to these good folks...for just a break from the troubles in my life. It was exhausting, but worth it. I'm glad I took the risk.

BlogPaws 2011: The Next Few Hours

Maria was certain something was terribly wrong with Amberly. The cat is very small to begin with and was still healing from spay surgery that was done 10 days prior. What was making the cat's belly distend? Then Maria mentioned very smelly poop, which can be a sign of Giardia. I told her I thought maybe it was worms or just the effects from a long ride in the car. She felt it was something worse than that-perhaps life threatening! I promised I'd find a Vet. She said they would be arriving in about an hour. I had to act quickly.

Thankfully, Caroline Golon, one of the Founders of BlogPaws, was able to find a Vet. She didn't tell me she was going to find me a really cute Vet to boot..and one who does Acupuncture and Wellness! I wish I had had time to have a conversation with Dr. Patrick Mahaney, instead of pleading for his advice!

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Margaret Gates, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, & Me just after the phone call..and the relief that all was well for Amberly.

Margaret Gates, from Feline Nutrition, was with me. We were both giving Dr Patrick big-eyed “Puss-in-boots” look, asking if he wouldn't mind talking to us about this cat problem we had. Of course Dr. Patrick did not see Amberly, nor could he advise us since he's from California and not licensed in Virginia, but it didn't hurt to ask for his opinion, which he was gracious enough to give us. I put Dr. Patrick on the phone with Maria while my heart raced. It was 4:45pm-in fifteen minutes, the Pettie Award winners were going to be announced via the web. Almost all of the nominees were at BlogPaws and we all sincerely wanted to watch the broadcast, but I had to make sure Amberly was all right over anything else.

Thankfully, Dr. Patrick agreed that Amberly needed to be de-wormed and I promised to get a stool sample over to my vet when we got to Connecticut. As a personal THANK YOU to Dr. Patrick, I'd love it if you ALL go visit his web site: http://www.patrickmahaney.com/blog/ and LIKE him (what's not to like?!) on FACEBOOK!

With that issue put to rest, Margaret and I started to look for the room where we could watch the Pettie Awards. I have to note that for some reason, Dogtime Media pulled out of attending BlogPaws 2011 about 2 weeks before the Conference. Many of us were very upset about this because there would be no formal ceremony, handing out of trophies and no chance to give that acceptance speech we'd all been planning. The Petties were going to be broadcast as a pre-tapped video.

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Instead, we were sent off to a private room with a nice big screen projection setup. Everyone else was off to a screening of a new Disney movie called Spookie Buddies. About 20 of us were sitting around waiting for something to happen. I didn't see any computer hooked up to the screen so I ran off looking for help. Michael, our very nice A/V guy, got there with minutes to spare! My heart started racing. We were all getting nervous with anticipation.

Then I started getting texts from Maria. They were going to arrive in about 15 minutes! What was I to do? Make them sit out in the hot car? I had to go meet them, but I just HAD to see who was going to WIN!! Covered in Cat Hair was up for TWO awards!

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Then the video began, featuring Leslie Smith, Editor at Dogtime.com. We all started buzzing...first up, our friends Kate Benjamin of ModernCat and JaneA Kelly of Paws & Effect! When Kate won, we all erupted in screams and clapping! I wish both ladies could have won, though.

The awards were being announced at lightning speed. Next up was one of my categories: Best Social Integration! Stephanie Harwin of Catsparella won! I was very happy for her, but then I worried..it was my best shot to win. There was no way I was going to win for Best Cat Blog. The competition was way too stiff.

My heart felt like it was going to bust out of my chest. Maria was texting me. They were about to arrive! My category finally came up. I thought to myself-it's about time I was a WINNER. After the pure HELL of the past few weeks, I was due..due for something good to happen and I'd worked very hard for 5 years writing Covered in Cat Hair. Surely, I had a shot, but it also meant that my good friend, Ingrid wouldn't win and I wanted her to win, too.

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The intro screen came up...

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They announced the four finalists....

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And when they said MY NAME and COVERED IN CAT HAIR, I jumped out of my seat and threw my hands over my head and yelled; OH MY GOD!!!!!

Ingrid was right there, giving me a big hug. She was so gracious and I knew from our talks that we both would be happy if either of us won. I wanted to cry. I was so happy, but I had to leave the room! Bobby and Maria had arrived and were waiting in the Lobby. They'd just driven 10 hours. I was not going to make them wait.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Just after the WIN!

I floated out of the room and there were lots of folks from the show milling about. I wanted to scream “I WON I WON!!!” but I had to drop the urge and get back to business. I could celebrate later.

And then, across the lobby, I saw Bobby and Maria walking towards me. It was so odd. I knew what they looked like and we'd talked many time over the past year, but here they were in the flesh, like nothing particularly strange was going on. I'd been looking forward to this moment for a long time, but I could see how tired and hot they were so I got them to sit down and got them a drink. As I was walking back, I saw everyone leaving the room where I just watched part of the Petties. Ingrid, it seems, won for Best Pet Blog-the TOP honor of ALL the awards! I WAS SO HAPPY FOR HER and now things just felt complete! EVERY award-other than than the Best DOG Blog, was WON BY A CAT WRITER!!!!!

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Bobby & I cuddle with Peri & Amberly.

And then, like moths to a furry-flame, the cat writing ladies managed to find that Amberly and her kittens were in the lobby and within seconds they were all cooing and smiling over their new friends. Maria and Bobby were good sports. I think the energy in the room revived them and all the fussing about the kittens was a treat to see. What was even better was that most of us had just won a Pettie Award and it felt so empowering for us to be together! It was a moment I really cherished.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Ingrid King (left), Foster Mama-Maria (seated), Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat (rear), Margaret Gates of Feline Nutrition and Kate Benjamin of ModernCat (right)

I think I had about fifteen minutes of feeling good, happy, visiting with everyone...then, as things often do...the shit hit the fan. One of the ladies came up to me holding BlueBelle. She said something was wrong. I looked at the incision on Blue's belly. She'd been spayed 10 days earlier. I have to say the "person" who did the spay did a terrible job. I've never had to put kittens on antibiotics after being spayed because they got an infection. Their incisions were horrible. Here was Blue, very calm and serene and the glue had popped and her incision was opening up and was bleeding.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Sam & Bobby with Periwinkle & Amberly.

We were all supposed to go out to dinner to celebrate, but I had to find a Vet and this time we were going to need to do more than just have a consultation about what to do. We had no idea where Dr. Patrick was and I had no idea what to do next. BlueBelle was in trouble and we had to do something for her right away.

Find out what happens next...in tomorrow's post!

If you'd like to see the Pettie Awards presentation, just go HERE to see the show and a complete list of all the WINNERS!

BlogPaws 2011: The First 24 Hours

It was very difficult to leave home last week. The decision to make the trip to Virginia to attend BlogPaws 2011 was not made lightly. Sam and I both changed our minds as we sat glued to the TV, watching the latest reports on Hurricane Irene. The closer we got to leaving, the closer the Hurricane was coming to the United States. We knew we'd have to cut our trip down to the shortest time away, possible, if we had any hope of getting back before the weather turned. Add to that our Pet Sitter and our backup, Jennifer, both got the flu, my car died on the highway the day before and Bob...Bob was growing thinner and thinner. His time was coming. Would we be away when he passed on?

Reluctantly, I packed, thinking it was a fool's errand to even bother. I knew I made a commitment to be a Speaker at BlogPaws and I also knew it was my only chance to be able to have Amberly and her kittens transported to me at the hotel, instead of facing putting them on a paid transport. It was my only chance to finally meet, in person, Maria & Bobby who I've been working with for over a year. I had to go.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Headed over the Tappen Zee bridge.

We decided to leave later and come home sooner. At noon on Thursday, I took half a valium. It was the only way I was going to be able to leave and not have a nervous breakdown. I did not want to leave Bob. I started crying. I said goodbye to him, not knowing if I would ever see him again. Our pet sitter came through and said she would be there as much as she could, but of course it would never be enough since she couldn't live here while we were gone. I had to be ok with that.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. D.C. Traffic.

The drive to Vienna was mostly uneventful. Sam and I talked, but often we sat quietly. As we got further from home, I tried to focus on what I wanted to get done at the conference and I thought about the presentation we were going to give about Analytics. I did what I could to prepare, but I just wanted to go home.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Almost there...

We made good time to the hotel, even though the traffic near it was terrible. We're used to traffic in New York City, but somehow this seemed worse. We were lucky we were headed into the city because we saw the northbound traffic backing up from Baltimore to the exits for D.C.

After we got into our room, which had a great view of the pool and from the 15th floor we could see what the weather was doing, too, we got unpacked. This is when I discovered that my old digital camera was not working properly. Great. Just what I needed. I would have to use my iPhone and do what I could. I didn't want to think about how much it was going to cost to replace that camera. Or could I get it repaired? I was too tired from everything breaking. I put the camera away and shelved my disappointment for later.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. I tried to resist the temptation to jump.

Ingrid was waiting, anyway.

Ingrid King, who writes The Conscious Cat, and I have become good friends since we met at the Cat Writers' Association conference a few years ago. Ingrid is one of the nicest, most kind-hearted people I have ever met. Being around her always cheers me up and I knew she was waiting for us in the Lobby, so we made a beeline down to see her.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A SMALL sample of the swag we got.

We got gigantic goody bags when we registered. They were so huge we had to bring them up to our room. No way were we going to carry that stuff around all night. I took a peek inside the bags. I saw a lot of dog-centric things, but I must say I really liked the BlogPaws t-shirt. Very nice design. Anyway..back to Ingrid!

The worries about doing the right thing began to fade as soon as I started to see my friends and meet new ones. It was great to see Ingrid again and I finally got to meet Margaret Gates, who is the Executive Director of Feline Nutrition Education Society. We love what Margaret does to help people understand the benefits and importance of feeding a species appropriate diet. I saw JaneA Kelley from Paws & Effect. She is one groovy chick. Wendy Christensen, a fellow CWA member and awesome artist was there with my new cat charm bracelet-she made just for me! (I will have to take a photo of it soon!) Wendy has a shop on Etsy you can see HERE. I also met my new BFF, Kate Benjamin whose website, Modern Cat is one of my favorites for discovering simply beautiful products for cats. Kate and I didn't get to talk much, but I could tell right away we were going to be good friends. Kate is really awesome and has a kickass tattoo on her arm of a tribal stylized cat. Very cool!

We loaded up on an array of appetizers and got to chatting, about cats, of course. I was really impressed that there was a lot to choose from and the place was buzzing with excitement. Hurricane Irene hadn't kept folks home, that's for certain. I was told that there were about 400 people, up from 250 at the first BlogPaws 2011 in Ohio. Very impressive! Sam and I had to run off to test our Presentations and check out the room we'd be using. It was very big with lots of windows. The reality of doing the session in less than 24 hours hit me. Was I even mentally prepared for this? Guess I'd find out.

But first...cheesecake!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. YAY!

The gals, Sam and I went to the Cheesecake factory to chat and load up on sugar. The conversation was non-stop and there was a great deal of laughter. I REALLY needed that, more than I can say. It was so good to be around like-minded folks, who were all passionate about the same thing-cats, cats and more cats!

I would have been happy to stay up all night, but I knew I had a 7 AM (as in the MORNING!!) breakfast meeting to get to, so we all said our good-nights.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Prepare to be assimilated.

Somehow I managed to drag my butt out of bed and get to the Breakfast meeting held by World's Best Cat Litter. They'd invited a small group of bloggers to talk about their products and their vision for getting the word out on their brand. I was too delirious to say much, but it was interesting to know they realized the value of having our good opinion. I got a coupon for a free bag of litter, so I was pretty happy about that, but really, where is the money? Sorry, but we all work very hard at what we do. It just seems to be very tough to figure out if there's a way to make a reasonable income when, clearly we can help this company make some money. All we get out of it is more visibility for our blog-maybe. This is something I need to ponder further.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Rescue Ink Guys, Big Ant and Joe.

Next up was a trip back to the big dining hall for a presentation by two of the guys from Rescue Ink: Joe Panz and Big Ant. Now it's clear these fellas really care about helping both people and animals that are in danger of being abused, but I have to admit that there is something about them that makes me giggle and I can't take them seriously. I'm really sorry to say that because I don't know them, but they are so completely different than the female-centric rescue people I know that seeing these big guys with tattoos talking about how they scare off the bad guy...I dunno...I reminds me of going to a friend's house for a party and meeting a guy who brags about things but you're never really sure if he's telling the truth or just trying to be cool.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ooo..I feel so tiny.

After the presentation was over, I spoke to the guys about a situation my rescue has been dealing with regarding a nut-job woman who is in jail and how she dumped her cats on poor Jennifer without surrendering them to her. So Jennifer is stuck-she should be able to give the animals to the pound, which is very nice in Milford, and they cannot do anything to those cats until the owner is out of jail. I wanted to know about the law regarding removing animals from a home and personal property laws. What would happen if one of those cats got sick and died while the woman was in jail? Their advice; talk to the cops. They didn't even seem to know about animals being considered personal property. Hmmm...well I got my photo taken with them so that made up for a few misgivings.

After that, I had to find Megan from Purina. She'd asked me if I wanted to be interviewed about Kitten Associates. Sure! Of course! The Purina Cat Chow Correspondent, Andy Senor Jr. wanted to meet with me. I had no idea how they knew about me or why they wanted to chat. I was still half-awake, but figured I better get this done. I walked over to the Purina booth and introduced myself. They knew who I was and were ready to do the interview right then and there. I was escorted outside (for better light) by Andy, himself, a camera man and Bill a very big wig from Nestle/Purina. I'm a very informal person, but suddenly I felt like I needed to step up to the plate.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Andy is dandy! Hee hee. (and me)

Firstly, Andy is VERY charming. Apparently he's an actor and has been in the cast of “RENT” for over a decade. Andy shares ownership of a cat named Buster with his friend. His cat spends two weeks at one apartment and two weeks at Andy's. Shared custody? ONE CAT? Okay, what does this guy know about cats? He certainly loves them, but I really wanted to get him alone to find out what was going on or to make out with him, one of the two.

Oh yes..be professional! Okay...so Andy starts interviewing me. Wow is he good at what he does! The camera guy was walking around us, getting different angles. I tried not to look in the camera, but it certainly was an odd feeling having someone watching your every move. I know how these things work-they shoot a lot of footage and cut it to 30 seconds. I tried to remember to sit up straight, be clever and clear and make sure to get out my message. Oops. Problem. One of the missions of Kitten Associates is to feed a species appropriate diet-which means no dry food. Guess I better tread lightly on that topic for now.

Andy oozed confidence and compassion. Either he was a great actor or really cared. He was very polite and kind and very easy to like, which made the interview go that much better. Due to Hurricane Irene, Andy had to hustle back to New York City, but our interview will be posted in the coming weeks. You can subscribe to Andy's feed on YouTube HERE so you'll be notified of when our interview goes live.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

And now it was time for lunch! Remember, I'd been up since 6 AM so I was covering a lot of ground.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Let us eat cheesecake (again)!

I decided to attend a presentation afterwards-the one just before the one I was doing. It was about monetizing your blog. Great! What they didn't tell us what HOW MUCH MONEY we could get for doing whatever we were going to do to sell our souls to the Devil to make a buck. I still have no idea how this happens because it sounded like you have to pitch company's what you want to do to help their brand, then get paid to do that via your blog. I don't know how I could do what I do, tell my stories and share my knowledge all “sponsored by” some big corporation. I think I would lose my credibility. I hate being poor, but really? Isn't there some other way to make money? I bet I could do consulting. That might be the answer, but again, what are people getting paid to do this sort of thing? They wouldn't say!

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©2011 Ingrid King. Sam is up first.

Then it was our turn to do our Presentation. I was not nervous, for once. In fact, I was raring to go. I think doing that stand up comedy/storytelling show in New York City made me stop being scared to talk in public.

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©2011 Ingrid King. I get started.

Sam was up first. He went over all the nitty gritty about Analytics. I was watching the time and he was going long. I started to get worried I wouldn't have more than 5 minutes to talk. Then Sam started to show slides about things I WAS GOING TO TALK ABOUT! What the heck was going on? I tried to be funny and remind him to move along and that I had that covered. I think the stress from the past week had gotten to Sam, too. He was clearly tired and jumped into action to wrap things up.

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©2011 Ingrid King. Last slide. Whew!

Things went quickly and before I knew it I was done and we were fielding questions. I started getting text messages from Maria before we started. She was worried about Amberly. Her belly was big. She was gassy. Maria thought it was something bad. They were about an hour away. At the end of my talk, I saw she had sent more texts, frantic that Anberly needed to be seen by a VET.

It's Friday afternoon, almost 5pm. I need a Vet. I don't know where there is a Vet. I don't know where I am! I ran out of the conference room and started to search for Yvonne and Caroline, who are two of the founders or BlogPaws. They would know where I could find a Vet to talk to.

But what I couldn't have known then, that even though I found a Vet, not 30 minutes later, would I have a real crisis on my hands and need another.

Tomorrow...the next 24 hours...

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

Not on My Watch: The One Yes

I'm wiped out. I spent all day yesterday emailing rescues, trying to sort out what could be done to save the lives of these big siamese brothers. I wasn't surprised to get lots of “sorry, can't” replies, but I had to keep hoping someone would be willing to take them on. I started to think that someone was going to be me, but I'm going to have a full house pretty soon and I was worried that if I said, yes, to the boyz, I would be taking on way too much.

Many of you wrote to me and offered suggestions and even contacted some rescues on behalf of the kitties. Thank you all for your help! Even though most didn't pan out, it only takes ONE “YES!” to make the difference.

Yesterday morning, Marty, from DCIN, went to the shelter and checked their blood sugar levels. Neither cat is diabetic which will make placing them that much easier. Thank you, Marty & DCIN!

Yesterday afternoon, I contacted our friend Jennifer H. at the Humane Society of Forsyth County. You may remember Jennifer, she was the one we got to rescue the Cow Mama and Babies and the kitten with the deformed legs. I didn't expect that Jennifer could help, but I didn't know one thing-Jennifer has a soft spot for fat cats, especially siamese cats! When I asked her for help, she said, YES!

Even though Jennifer is out of town attending a family FUNERAL, she took the time to reply to me and give me the OKAY to pull these cats on her behalf. I offered to do a fundraiser to cover the initial costs for vet care and food (the cats MUST be on a grain-free canned diet now), to make it easier for her to agree.

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Meet Nigel (left) and Basil (right).

A few minutes ago, Bobby, our intrepid cat-rescuer, picked up the cats and they are now at the Vet, waiting to get their very important snap test. We all have to cross our fingers and hope that both boys are negative/negative for FIV and Feline Leukemia!! After that, it “should” be smooth sailing. They'll be whisked away to their Auntie Bobbie's house to be fostered until they can be moved northe to HSFC.

We named them, Basil & Nigel after Basil Rathbone, the actor who portrayed Sherlock Holmes in the 1940's and Nigel, after Nigel Bruce, who portrayed Dr Watson.

Our coffers are almost empty and we REALLY NEED HELP getting funds together to cover the Vet care and the boy's food for the next few weeks. If you can help make a donation towards their care, it's tax deductible!

Donations can be made via the ChipIn Widget, below, or you can mail a check, payable to:

Kitten Associates

P.O. Box 354

Newtown, CT 06470-0354

Thank you for all your support and for caring about these big boys. I hope to report, one day, that they are sliming down and blossoming into fine felines. The weight loss process must be done slowly and carefully, so it will take some time, but one day they will be feeling much better! Today starts their new life!

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