Thursday, March 24, 2016

Time Cat

Ticky, the fuzzy one.

My obsession with cats goes back as far as I can remember. My parents had a cat, Merlin, before I was even born. I grew up with the little fuzzballs. When I went away to college I frequented the cat section of animal shelters and waited for the day when I'd live in an apartment instead of a dorm so I could get a cat of my own. I had it planned out: I would get one that was middle-aged so they wouldn't be too rambunctious, a personality somewhere between standoffish and cuddle-bug so they'd be the sort that would be ok with me being gone all day, and would be named Time Cat. I do understand that Time Cat is more of a title than a proper name, but I was mildly obsessed with Dr. Who coming out of grad school (I own every season of the new series except for the first) and wanted a cat with a unique name.

About three months after I moved in I went to the surrounding animal shelters with J.D. I ended up at the shelter in my own neighborhood where they had a cat room instead of individual cages. I remember there was one giant Mane Coon named "Big Momma" who had claimed the entire top of the cat tower as her own. Anyway, after we had finished playing with some cats we were ready to go but just as I was standing up a little grey tabby belly-crawled out from underneath of the kitten cages and flopped right into my lap. I wish I could find the picture we took of him. He was only six months old, way too young but obviously I had been chosen. This was Time Cat.

Young Ticky, still drugged up from being neutered.

I found out I couldn't take him home that day because he had only just gotten there a few days before. He still needed to be neutered and finish his deworming meds, so I spent the next three days being super anxious and buying way too many cat toys. When he came home he was still coming off of the anesthesia so he mostly slept (The ride home was also his only ride in a cat carrier that didn't involve stress pooping). It took him a few days to acclimate but soon he was romping around. It turns out he's very photogenic so I got lots of pictures of him being adorable. I made him a TARDIS since he is a Time Cat, and it remains one of my favorite photos of him.
Bow ties are cool

It turns out you can train cats to do tricks just like dogs can, but you have to actually have treats in your possession in order for them to deem it worth their time to do it. Ticky can sit, turn in a circle, touch an object with his nose, give you a high five, jump onto a surface on command, go under your leg, over your leg, and into his carrier when you snap and point into it. He also walks on a harness in order to go on outdoor adventures. It took awhile to get him to accept harnesses which might be another blog. It was necessary for outdoor adventures though because he likes squirrels too much and we're too close to a main road. Now he can sit in shrubbery for long periods of time! :P

All in all, despite the occasional hairball thrown up on the carpet or incessant meowing because "hoomans are boring," he is an awesome little companion. I'm pretty obsessed with Ticky. More of him to come in future posts!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Big Purple Barn and my developing horse obsession

The Big Purple Barn is a magical place where you can get a workout, make friends, and learn how to become completely obsessed with horses all in one go. They're a non-profit horse rescue in Bowie, MD with 15 horses, two chickens, two cats, and one adorable pig currently in residence. I volunteer there at least twice a week if I can manage it, scooping poop, carrying water buckets and hay bales, and brushing, blanketing, hoof picking, and occasionally walking the horses. I've been volunteering there since last summer but had never been around horses prior to that aside from a smattering of trail rides and maybe four lessons total. The lessons were a recent development, since my sister and I both realized we were grown ups now and could do a once-a-month lesson at a barn up in Cecil County. I wanted somewhere I could interact with the horses instead of getting on and off of them and then quickly being shooed from the premises. I had never watched a horse interact with other horses, never been allowed to care for them or observe how they learned new things. I had been on a horse, but I didn't really understand what they were like. I was a weird case of a horse-loving youngster never getting contact with the actual animal until adulthood. (My parents could never afford lessons and were also afraid of us getting destroyed by a horse.) Now adulthood-me can't get enough of it. I tried to deny it for...maybe three months until my husband, J.D. announced that based upon the number of horse article tabs I had open on my laptop and the number of times he heard the word "ponies" in a day I was officially obsessed with them. I figured at that point I'd just go ahead and jump in with both feet. 

This is Aspen and he's perfect. Yes he may be scared of a lot of things that we might think are silly, but that doesn't mean he isn't perfect- it just means he's SUPER aware of EVERYTHING, right Aspen? He also gives me lots of chances to brush him, as his favorite activity is rolling in filth. I like him because he's quiet and needs time to think about everything before he's ok with it. I also feel that way a lot of the time, especially when I'm working through something that is new or that I'm nervous about- such as being around horses! He's also one of the more inquisitive horses in the herd which makes it pretty amusing to work with him. I like leading him around on walks in the ring, but recently our walks have been interrupted by the arrival of Pepper the pig! Her pen is between the barn and the ring, so he has to walk by her in order to get from one place to the other. I've been lucky enough to get tutoring on how to desensitize him to her so he can get back to business-as-usual walks eventually. I'm glad I have the opportunity to learn and also help out!  

One of the other horses, Miles, seems intent on butting in every time I try to go visit Aspen in the field. Aspen of course just walks off when Miles shows up. I'm glad of that, since I don't want to be caught in the middle of a "I told you to get lost" snit but I do sometimes wish I could chill with Aspen for longer before Miles shows up! Haha. I don't think he's doing it for treats, since I rarely bring treats out to the field, and if I seemed to have treats either Harry or Taz would be right there in two seconds. I did go run around with him in the ring when we had a big snow and the snow was really deep. 
Pictured: Me and Miles running around like crazy fools in the deep snow.

Maybe he thinks I'm a fun person to play with? Maybe he just thinks he should be getting the attention instead? In any case, sometimes I still don't know why horses do what they do but I'm learning a lot at The Big Purple Barn!  

Blog Opening Post

I'm the type of person who tends to get mildly obsessed about things that I enjoy. I try to moderate the amount of squeeing I do in front of people, as usually I have to remember that they may not be quite as obsessed as I am about my cat learning how to walk on a harness or finding out that slime mold is a thing that exists. Luckily there's the internet. Now if you want to learn all about my journey to try to be friends with a big horse named Aspen, look at zillions of pictures of my cat, or learn about the moons of Jupiter, can do that. I plan to link this blog to my Facebook, so I'll occasionally post things here that I also have there but add more detail (hence blog, I suppose). I hope that you will enjoy my ramblings!