Chip and the Big Flush

Chip grabbed the tool box off his bed and headed out the door.  “Bye, see you tonight,” he called to his three siblings.

Chip walked a few blocks to the office of Plumbers R Us.  Today was his first day on the job.  Graduating from CAT-U seemed like a lifetime ago, since Chip’s focus the past week was preparing for this job.

Chip found Mr. Hewey waiting for him at the front desk.

“Good morning, Mr. Hewey,” Chip greeted the plump black and white cat.

Mr. Hewey climbed off the chair and lumbered around the desk, “Hi, Chip.  Are you ready for your first assignment?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good, here are your jobs for the day.  Normally, I try to schedule you 5 jobs each day, but since this is your first day, I started you off easy with only 3.   I will be following you to each home and assisting you if needed.  Any questions?”

“No.”

“Good, let’s go.”

Chip followed Mr. Hewey down the street as Mr. Hewey explained, “The first client has a stopped-up kitchen sink.  The garbage disposal has quit working as well.”

Chip nodded and rang the doorbell.

“Hello, I am Chip with Plumbers R Us.  How are you?”

“Good, come on in,” a tan tabby replied as she stepped aside so Chip and Mr. Hewey could enter.

The tan tabby led them to the kitchen explaining, “My kitchen sink is stopped up and the disposal stopped working.”

Chip opened the cupboards and checked under the sink and then in the sink.  “Give me a few minutes and I should be able to find the problem.”

The tan tabby nodded in pleasure and left the room.

Chip worked quickly as Mr. Hewey observed.  Soon Chip exclaimed, “I found the problem.”

The tabby came back into the room, and Chip showed her the large glob of cat food that was stuck in the disposal and sink drain.

“I am going to dislodge this here,” Chip said, as he positioned the plunger over the sinks opening.  He pumped it several times, before the glob came loose and Chip pulled back triumphantly.

He scooped the old food up and into the trashcan.  He then ran the sink and turned on the disposal.  The water ran easily and the disposal churned.

“You are wonderful.  I can’t believe you fixed it so fast.”

Chip beamed at the praise.

After the tabby had paid Chip for his service, she lead him and Mr. Hewey to the door. 

“Good job, Chip,” Mr. Hewey praised as they walked to the next job.

“Thank you, Mr. Hewey,”

At the next house, Chip knocked on the door, and a large black cat answered gruffly, “Yes, what do you want?”

“I am Chip with Plumbers R Us, sir.  I am here to fix your toilet.”

“Oh, right.  Come in.”

Chip followed the large cat through the house to the bathroom.

“The toilet is running a lot longer than normal every time it is flushed,” the black cat explained.

“Let me take a look at it,” Chip said.

The black cat nodded, but proceeded to hover as Chip looked for the problem. 

“I found the problem,” Chip exclaimed, after watching the toilet flush several times.  “I need to replace the flapper, so the water will stay in the tank.”

The black cat came closer to Chip and peered into the tank.

With a grunt, he backed away again, and Chip set to work

The client hovering made Chip slightly nervous, but he concentrated on his work.

Soon he had the toilet fixed and the toilet flushed and stopped much quicker.

“There you go, sir.  It is all fixed.”

“Thank you.  You are very efficient.”

It was only when Chip and Mr. Hewey were on their way to their next job, that Chip admitted, “The client hovering like that really made me nervous.  I was waiting for him to argue with me about how to fix it.”

“You handled him well, and he was obviously impressed by you.”

The last job Chip had that day was at the house of a young calico mother.  She greeted Chip and Mr. Hewey and ushered them inside.

As she led them to the bathroom she explained, “The shower has been slow to drain for a while but last night it stopped draining completely.”

As Chip listened and followed a trio of rambunctious kittens raced by them.

“I will take a look at it for you,” Chip replied smiling at the kittens as they circled him again.

“Leave Chip alone, please kittens.  He is here to fix the shower.”

The kittens scurried into the other room.

“Sorry about that, they are so curious,” she explained to Chip and Mr. Hewey.

Chip inspected the water filled tub.  He reached his paw onto the drain but the direct opening was clear.

“Must be a clog in the line.  I will run the snake down it and see of that will fix it,” Chip explained.

The calico nodded and went to check on her kittens.

Chip got the snake from his toolbox and set to work.

He loved working the snake down the drain.  He smiled feeling much more relaxed at this job.  The tub slowly started to drain and after the snake went a few inches further, it drained normally.

Chip retracted the snake and monitored the shower drain.  When the standing water was gone, he turned on the tub faucet and watched the water drain.  When he was satisfied that the clog was cleared, he called, “ All fixed.”

The calico appeared in the doorway shadowed by her three kittens.

Chip smiled at her and said, “ I think have cleared the clog. Is this how it normally drains?”

Everyone watched as Chip turned on the tub’s faucet.  The water poured out of the spout and flowed easily down the drain.

“That is wonderful.  Yes.”

Chip shut the water off.  After being paid, he and Mr. Hewey left the calico’s home.

“Good job today, Chip.  I am very impressed with you.  Are you ready for 5 jobs tomorrow?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Great.  I’ll see you in the morning.”

Chip waved bye to Mr. Hewey and hurried home.  He could not wait to tell his sibling about his first day.

The end

Did you know?

Lots of common household items and plants are toxic to cats. Here is a list of top 10 toxins: poisonous poisons

  1. Lilies
  2. Spot-on flea and tick medications for dogs
  3. Household cleaners such a Windex and Bleach
  4. Antidepressant and stimulate medications
  5. Essential Oils- meant to be inhaled not ingested!
  6. Anti-inflammatory medications
  7. Mouse and rat poisons
  8. Aspirin and decongestant medications
  9. Onions and garlic
  10. Adult multi-vitamins- will overdose a cat.

Pet Halloween Safety Tips

  1. Halloween candy is toxic for cats and dogs. Make sure to keep candy out of your pet’s reach.
  2. Keep your pets, especially black cats, in the house on Halloween night. This is the worst night of the year for cats and dogs being injured or killed by humans.
  3. When answering the door, keep your pets confined away from door so they can’t get out. Give your cats and dogs a safe place to hide away from the front door and costumed kids so they don’t get spooked.
  4. Keep glowsticks and candles out of your pet’s reach. These commonly go inside pumpkins and can injure cats and dogs. Keep lit jack-o-lanterns away from your pets.
  5. Keep fall decorations such as carved pumpkins, fall corn cobs, and haybales away from your pets.
  6. Keep electronic decorations off the floor and anywhere that your cats and dogs can get to. Some pets are attracted to the new object and chewing on these can cause choking, battery burns, or electrical shock hazards.
  7. Dressing your pet up in a costume is fun, but make sure you take the costume off immediately after showing your friends or taking the photo. Costumes can shift and create leg, tail and face injury to pets by restricting their movements. Also, if your cat or dog decides to chew the costume off, it can cause stomach blockages.
  8. Make sure your cats and dogs wear a collar with a current ID tag while you are having friends over or answering the door for trick or treaters. ID tags are the only way others can help return your pets to you if they get out.

Separation Anxiety

Many dogs experience separation anxiety when left alone. They will often whine, bark, cry, howl, chew, dig, scratch at the door, soil the house or destroy your home and yard. We often unintentionally train our dogs to behave this way because whenever they throw this kind of tantrum when we leave, we quickly come back to reassure them, give them attention or even a bone or biscuit. If you do this, your dog will soon learn that he can control you with emotional blackmail.

Long, drawn-out farewells can create separation anxiety problems by first exciting your dog and then making the isolation more obvious when you’re gone. Just when he gets all worked up and ready to play, suddenly you disappear. With all this energy, your dog will either try his best to get you to come back or he will have to vent his energy in some other way. Since he can’t build model airplanes or invite his buddies over for a hand of poker, he does doggy things – like chew, dig and bark.

Perhaps it is not separation anxiety after all! We often think our dog is destructive because he is angry and spiteful that we left him, but he could actually be just trying to have some fun since there is nothing else to do. He may be relieved to be able to do those things he normally can’t do when you’re home. He may be thinking, “Thank goodness the owner is finally leaving! Now I can chase the cat, dig up the tomatoes, get in the trash, and bark at the neighbors. They never let me do those things when they’re home.”

Some dogs with separation anxiety are stressed, nervous and insecure when they are left alone. They express this nervous energy in typical dog fashion – chewing, digging, barking and house soiling.

To prevent separation anxiety, dogs need to feel happy, secure, and comfortable when you’re away. It’s important to give them things to do while you’re gone. Provide them with lots of toys, such as a Kong stuffed with treats, and chew bones. Often another companion pet can help alleviate the boredom.

Another way to prevent separation anxiety is to set aside scheduled time periods to give your dog undivided attention, play and exercise. A happy, well-exercised dog will usually sleep contentedly during the day while you are gone. Be sure that one of the scheduled play sessions occurs before you must leave for the day. Give your dog a chance to settle down before you leave and don’t make a big deal of your departure – just leave without any emotion or commotion.

If your dog is already experiencing separation anxiety, then gradually accustom him to your leaving. Practice leaving and returning several times a day until he gets used to your departures and realizes that you are not abandoning him forever. Gradually leave for longer and longer periods of time, but start out by leaving for just 5 minutes and returning again.

I’m Teaching Creative Writing Classes!!

Classes will be held at the Rosemeade Recreation Center at 1330 E Rosemeade Pkwy, Carrollton, TX 75007.

These class will encourage your child or teen to use their imagination and teach them the necessary elements for creating a great story.  Your young author will learn the pieces making up the beginning, middle, and end of a story.  There are no wrong answers in this class, just the possibility of coming up with the next best-selling story.

Young Authors: Mommy and Me

With the parent’s help, students will be encouraged to fill in the blanks to create a story as well as create a story behind a photograph.

No Class 11/28.  Registration includes parent and one child.

Class # 170650-70 at Rosemeade Recreation Center For 4-6 year olds and their parent. This is a four week class starting 10/3/19 from 4:30pm to 5pm

Class # 170650-80 at Rosemeade Recreation Center For 4-6 years old and their parent. This is a four week class starting 11/7/19 from 4:30pm to 5pm

Register here!

Young Authors

Your authors learn about outlining, generating story ideas, and writing in different genres.

No Class 11/28. 

Class # 170655-70 at Rosemeade Recreation Center 7-12 year olds. This is a six week class starting 10/3/19 from 5pm to 6pm.

Register here!

Teenage Authors

Teenage authors learn about outlining, generating story ideas, and writing in different genres.

No Class 11/28. 

Class # 170660-70 at Rosemeade Recreation Center 13-18 year olds. This is a six week class starting 10/3/19 from 6pm to 7pm.

Register here!

Why do cats drop their toys into their water dish?

Misty has always taken her toys or post it notes from my desk and dropped them in her water dish. She then attracts her brothers attentions and all five cats will attempt to fish the toy or piece of paper from the dish with their paws splashing water on the floor.

I was curious what instinct made Misty want to take her toys or my post it notes to the water dish, so I started looking into it.

I was surprised to find there wasn’t one definite answer.  Scientists are guessing at why cats take toys to their water dish.  There are several theories.  One is that cats are using their fishing/hunting instinct by putting the toy in the water and pawing at it.  Another theory is that cats view their food and water dishes as a safe place.  Since domestic cats don’t have a ‘nest’, they use their food and water dishes as a safe hiding place for their ‘catch’.  A third theory is that the cat is trying to teach it’s human to hunt/fish by showing off their skills. 

Crate Train Your Dog

Growing puppies alternate periods of activity and rest throughout the day. There’s no reason they can’t do their resting in a crate, like a baby taking a nap in a playpen or crib. By keeping the puppy on a regular schedule of feedings and exercise, you can control his natural rest periods. If you put the puppy in his crate when he’s already tired and ready to settle down, he’ll get used to his new “bedroom” faster.

In the beginning, he should only be expected to stay in the crate for 2 hours at a time and overnight. During his periods out of the crate, your puppy needs plenty of playtime and attention. I like to give puppies at least an hour between crating periods where they’re played with, loved, allowed to explore and romp. This burns off their boundless puppy energy and helps them understand that crating is only a temporary thing.

Special toys and treats help make his “room” a pleasant place to stay. Give the puppy a small treat every time he has to go into his crate. Better still; toss the treat into the crate so he can jump in after it. (If you want him to learn to go in the crate on command, say “Kennel” when you toss the treat. He won’t understand right away but before long he’ll put three important things together in his mind – “Kennel” + Crate = Treat!)

You’ve given him a reward for going into the crate, now you need to give him an incentive to stay in there quietly. Make his “room” comfortable. Get him a soft but hard to destroy blanket or bed. Get him a selection of toys but don’t give them all to him at once, just one or two at a time. Rotate the toys. Puppies get bored easily and switching the toys around makes them seem new and exciting. Teething puppies love chew toys and all dogs love a sterilized beef bone with peanut butter stuffed in the middle. They can spend hours trying to clean it all out.

Dogs learn quickly when their behavior is associated with a reward. Behavior that doesn’t result in a reward often disappears when there’s nothing in it for them. It’s normal for many puppies to bark, whine, howl or throw tantrums when first being crate-trained. If you let your puppy out of the crate while he’s upset, you’ll be rewarding him for bad behavior. The next time he’s supposed to go in his crate, he’ll cry and bark again because that’s what got him out the last time.

For many puppies, just ignoring their complaints is enough to make them stop. If it doesn’t get them anywhere, they soon give it up and find something better to do like sleep or play with a toy. Stubborn puppies might need a harsh-sounding “No!” and a rap on the top of the crate to help them get over their tantrums. Whatever you do, don’t take him out of the crate until he’s quieted down.

Training Your Kitten to use the Litter Box

Kittens explore the world with their mouths just like human babies. Using clay clumping litter with kittens under 8 weeks old is dangerous.  This litter is highly toxic if eaten.  The best litter for young kittens is recycled newspaper.  These litters have newspaper that are pressed into inch long pellets, which is too large for a kitten to swallow.  The newspaper won’t hurt the kitten if they chew on the pellets.  The newspaper pellets should be placed in a low-lying open box/pan that is easy for the kittens to get in and out of.  A rabbit litter box is a good height for young kittens.

To start litter box training the kittens, stimulate them to go potty in the box after every meal.  Leave the soil pellets in the box, so the kittens can smell where they have gone before.  Scent is a big part of litter box training.  Some kittens will start pottying in the box very quickly, others take several days of repetition.  Praise the kittens for successfully using the litter box.  Don’t scold them if they go outside the box. 

As kittens are learning to go potty without being stimulated, they will have very little warning that they have to go potty.  Keep the litter box in the same room as the kittens at all times.  The litter box should never be more than 10 feet away from young kittens.

Set up the room so that the litter box is at one end of the room and their toys and beds are at the other.  Kittens naturally don’t like to potty where they eat and sleep.  Placing puppy potty pads under the litter box will making cleaning up mistakes easier.  Kittens will already have a natural drive to cover their potty, so allow the kitten to cover their potty even if they are scooping the litter pellets out of the litter box. 

Clean the litter box multiple times a day, as the newspaper pellets will get quickly soiled.  Kittens are naturally clean creatures and won’t want to use a dirty litter box.  To clean the box, scoop out the soiled pellets and wipe down the sides with a damp paper towel.  After a few times scooping the box, it will be time to dump the entire box and put fresh pellets in.  Do not use scented soap or cleaners when you are wiping the box down, this hides the kittens’ scent.  The kittens will go potty where they smell that they’ve gone before.

For kittens under 12 weeks old, it is dangerous to use clay clumping litter in the litter box.  Remember, kittens still put everything in their mouths and clay litter is dangerous for them to ingest.  After they have learned to use the litter box and are consistent with going on the newspaper pellets, transition them to a natural ground litter, such as corn cob litter.  Initially mix the newspaper pellets and corn cob litter together, so the kittens don’t stop using the litter box.  After a few days of them using the combination of litters, you can fill the litter box with corn cob litter only.  This litter will have a similar texture to the clay clumping litter but is much safer for kittens if they do put some in their mouths.  Corn cob litter will absorb odors and clump just like clay litter, so it’s easy to scoop.  Corn cob litter allows the kittens to use their instinct to dig before they go potty and then bury their potty.

Clumping cat litters are those that are designed so that urine and feces can be removed easily from the box without having to empty the entire box.  Most contain a material known as bentonite that allows the litter to form a nice solid clump as the litter absorbs liquid.  It is important that the cat litter is low in dust.  Cats naturally dig in the litter before and after they go potty, so they are very susceptible to inhaling dust.  Cat’s respiratory systems are very sensitive, so inhaling large amounts of litter dust can lead to serious health issues.  Look for litter that has 99% dust free on the packaging.  Avoid litters that are heavily scented.  The scents won’t hide the odor any better and can irritate cat’s respiratory system.

The pet stores carry a scoop-able litter that is designed for kittens.  It is ground to finer size so it doesn’t irritate kitten’s paws.  It also contains kitten-specific natural pheromones so kittens are curious to use the litter box. This litter can be used in the entire box or mixed in with other clay clumping litter.

Bucky’s Big Race

Seven year old Henry was following his mom through the pet store one Saturday morning.  As they approached the small animal section, a sign caught Henry’s eye and he froze.

When his mom turned around to find him, Henry exclaimed, “Look they are having a hamster derby here this afternoon.  Can I enter Bucky, please?”

His mom studied the sign for a moment, “Alright, we can look into it, let’s get Bucky’s food first.”

Henry nodded and continued following his mom.

Once they were at the checkout counter, Henry asked the cashier, “How do I sign up for the hamster derby?”

The cashier glanced at Henry and replied, “ There is no sign up, just have your hamster here by 1 p.m.”

“Thank you.  My hamster’s name is Bucky.  He is really fast.”

The cashier smiled at Henry’s enthusiasm, before saying, “I can’t wait to see him run.”

Only then did Henry turn to ask his mom, “Can Bucky run in the race, please?”

His mom responded, “Yes. We better go eat lunch and get Bucky.”

“Yeah!”

As soon as Henry got home, he race to his room. “Bucky, guess what, you are going to run in the hamster derby today.  We are going to the pet store after lunch. If you win, we will get a big trophy.”

Bucky poked his head out from under the mound of bedding where he napped.  He stretched and yawned as he walked over to the cage door.

“You want a yogurt treat, don’t you?”

Bucky stood waiting as Henry fished a treat from the bag and handed it to him.

“Henry, come eat lunch,” his mom called.

“Coming,” Henry shouted back, before telling Bucky, “I will be back.”

After lunch, Henry balanced Bucky’s exercise ball in his lap as they rode to the pet store.

Bucky turned and roamed inside the ball, confused by the new surroundings.

Once the car was parked, Henry climbed out carefully carrying Bucky in his ball.  As Henry led his mom into the pet store, he froze momentarily startled by the overwhelming sight of children and hamsters everywhere.  

“Wow, look at all the people.  Let’s go get Bucky signed in,” Mom said.

Henry nodded and followed her to the registration table.

It was not long after they got registered, that the first race began.  Henry crept closer to the tracks as the store employee started talking, “ Welcome everyone to the first hamster derby.  We have a 10 foot track set up for you today. There will be eight hamsters running at a time. The winner of each round will progress to the final run off.  I have the participants divided into six groups. I will call the names before each race, and my associates will help you get the hamsters in place. Is everybody ready?”

Henry screamed, “Yes!”

The store employee read the first eight names.

“Good, we aren’t up first so we can watch.” Henry commented.

His mom stood behind him, “Why don’t you move up closer so you can see.  I will stay right here.”

“Okay, thanks, Mom.”

“Do you want me to hold Bucky.”

“No, he needs to see too.”

Henry wove his way through the crowd of people to an opening that gave him a clear view of the track.

The first hamsters were loaded and at the employee’s signal, released.

“There are three hamsters aren’t moving off the starting line,” Henry whispered to Bucky, “Look, that black hamster is way in the lead.”

Henry stood and watched 3 more races, before Bucky’s name was called.

The store associate, took Bucky’s ball from Henry and placed it in the fourth lane on the track. 

Henry stood directly behind the fourth lane of the track. “You can do it, Bucky.  You will win, I just know it.”

As the associates started the race, Henry ran to the side of the track cheering, “Go, Bucky! Go!”

Henry bounced up and down in place.  Bucky was in the lead. Suddenly, Bucky slowed his pace.  

Oh, no.  Bucky has stopped and is now heading back to the starting line.

“No, Bucky, you’re going the wrong way!”

Henry watched as Bucky was passed by the rest of the hamsters.  Henry’s fist clenched at his side and tears welling up in his eyes, as he pleaded, “Please, Bucky, run the other way.  You can do it.”

As if hearing Henry, Bucky turned in his ball and continued running in the original direction.  Bucky picked up speed and quickly caught up with the other hamsters and pulled into the lead. He didn’t slow down, so his ball bounced off the other end of the track.

“Yeah, you won!  You won!” Henry cheered.

As the pet store employee announced, “Bucky comes in first, Fluffy came in second, and Oreo came in third…”

Henry wove his way through the crowd, and collected Bucky from the employee.

As he walked back to his mom, Henry chattered excitedly, “I am so proud of you, Bucky.  I knew you could do it. Now we are in the final race.”

Even though, Henry’s mom had seen the entire race, Henry could not stop himself from recounting the events to her.  He was so busy talking about Bucky’s race, that he missed the final three rounds. Only when he heard Bucky’s name called by the store employee, did Henry turn around and hurry back to the starting line with Bucky.

Bucky was placed in the second slot on the track this time.  Henry stood behind Bucky’s lane, explaining, “There are only five other hamsters running this time.  I know you can win, Bucky. Just run your fastest.”

Henry moved to the side of the track, just before the six hamsters were released.

“Go, Bucky, go!” Henry cheered. 

Bucky started running immediately, and this time he did not slow down.  

“Bucky’s in the lead! Yes, he is going to win,” Henry cheered.

A moment later, Bucky was caught at the other end of the track, by the store employee.  

“Bucky is the winner of our hamster derby,” The pet store employee announced excitedly, as he held Bucky and his ball over his head for all to see.

A cheer echoed through the store, as Henry and his mom wove through the crowd.  

Henry grabbed Bucky and his ball from the store associate, “You did so good, Bucky.  I am so proud of you!”

“Here is the trophy for Bucky’s owner, Henry,” the pet store employee announced.

Henry held Bucky in one hand, and the trophy in the other.  He smiled proudly, as camera flashes came from every direction.

Another round of applause echoed through the store.  

In a blur, Henry answered several questions about Bucky.  All too soon, Henry was following his mom to the car.

“Thank you, Mom,” Henry said as he climbed into the backseat, with Bucky and his trophy.

As soon as they got to the house, Henry raced to his room.  He rewarded Bucky with several yogurt drops as he place Bucky in his cage.

Bucky stuffed the yogurt drops in his cheeks and climbed down and under the bedding.   He poked his head out, as he heard Henry say, “You were so fast today, Bucky. I am so proud of you.  Your trophy will stay right here by your cage. Sleep well, Bucky, you earned it.”

Henry smiled at Bucky, as Bucky ducked his head back under the bedding.

I have the best hamster in the world, Henry thought as he tiptoed from the room.

The End