It was my gotcha day and all you got me…

… was a giant, mean cat?

This is “Mr. Orange,” the newest addition to Food Lady’s Menagerie.  He was an accident.

Mr. Orange was a “stray” dropped off at our shelter a while back.  He is an enormous cat … not just fat (though he is that) but also just really damn big. And really damn mean too.  His file said “fractious” because he was.  Everyone was scared to handle him, as that involved getting scratched, or bitten, or both.  Visitors to the community cat room exited the building at a high rate of speed citing terror of the “big orange guy.”  Just meeting his gaze elicited hissing and yowling. Even the other cats were terrified of him.

Let’s put it this way.  Mr. Orange is an asshole.

The Mr. Oranges of the world don’t have a lot of options.  Cat rescues are beyond full and our shelter is not a refuge, or a sanctuary for unadoptable animals, or even a shelter for cats, really.  We are primarily an impound facility operating within the bylaws of the District, and the District has bylaws for dogs, not for cats.  What that means is that while we do take in and adopt out cats, they have to be cats that are likely to actually get adopted.  And Mr. Orange really wasn’t making that a viable option with his behaviour.

Here on the farm we have at least one feral that we obtained for the purpose of helping to keep the rodent population under control.  We actually got two, but one has long since vanished.  So I offered to take Mr. Orange home, set him up in my garden shed for a couple of weeks to acclimate to his new surroundings, and then let him loose on the rats once he figured out he lived here.

It took two of us, and a big towel, to wrangle him into a carrier.  It took 2 days of listening to him cry in the shed to bring him into my house.

Long story short, Mr. Orange is right now napping on my sofa and since settling into the household has been nothing but an affection orange beach ball, following me from room to room, rubbing against my face when I bend over to get something and just generally being the most pleasant, laid back, sociable kitty a gal could hope for.  He has not tried to scratch or bite me even one time, not even when I pick him up.  And while not in love with the dogs, he is at least mostly unperturbed by them and walks among them without fear.

Go figure?

He’d just rather you didn’t photograph him, please.

TWooie is most unimpressed.

Yesterday was his one year anniversary of coming to live with his brother Woo, his arch nemesis Dexter and the rest of the canine squad that makes up my four legged family.

Remember this shell-shocked tub o’lard that first flew in from Prince George?

He weighed over 40 lbs, couldn’t run more than 20 feet without collapsing in a big hairy pile of huff n’ puff, and had no connection to anything at all.

Now he’s a lean (25 lbs), mean hunting machine with a smile on his face!

I had planned to do a whole post waxing poetic about the many wonderful ways in which TWooie has blossomed in his one year with me – how he no longer bites me in the pants when something upsets him, how he plays the “I’m gonna getcha!” game with me outside and gets the most fabulous zoomies, and how just the other day he smiled at me for the very first time, teeth and everything, but it wasn’t fear or rage or submission … it was just smiling.  He’s still a dink with other dogs, but he’s come so far along that he can go to the dog park now (on leash still) and look at me for guidance instead of trying to take down all the other dogs.  TWooie has been a most rewarding journey, which I’ve shared with you all, and really wanted to talk about.

Alas, Piper’s very scary near-death experience derailed all my plans / consumed all my time this week.  I am beyond pleased to tell you that she is back to her old self; a little filthier from the activated charcoal, but otherwise totally normal.  After much research and discussion with professionals from a variety of medical and veterinary and animal care backgrounds, I think I’ve determined that she did NOT get into rat poison.  I think she was poisoned by something in the plant variety, like a mushroom or some other toxic herb.  I say this because her bloodwork showed nothing more than dehydration (possibly attributable to her excessive drooling) and the neurotoxic effects (including the seizures and tremors) are not so much associated with rat poison as plant toxins.  Her liver and kidney values were just peachy, and there was and is no internal bleeding.

There is undoubtedly rat poison around here.  In fact, I know there is rat bait in dog-proof boxes that we had the pest guy put down a few months ago.  If in some *HIGHLY* unlikely event she HAD gotten into one of the steel boxes, she would already be dead (there is no antidote for that particular poison).  If she ate a rat that had eaten the poison, she wouldn’t be harmed – that’s the nature of the kind of poison they use (it has no secondary or tertiary effects).  I did discuss this more than carefully with the pest man at the time, because I have dogs, and I was concerned.  There may be rat poison down in some of the locked sheds or trailers on the property but she doesn’t have access to those places.  And I am generally always with her – it would be difficult for her to get into rat poison without me seeing it, but not at all difficult for her to eat a mushroom or grab a piece of toxic plant whilst hunting for her DumbBall etc.  And she was so totally fine not a half hour before it all went to hell.

I was beyond terrified.  I was sure she was dying.  And I was well beyond overjoyed when I got her back unharmed.  The very first thing she did when she walked in the house and run over to TWooie and snarl in his face until he moved off her favourite pillow.  That’s my girl!

The only lasting effect the whole episode has had on my itty bitty girl is a deep distrust of “Brown Guys.”  You see, the vet I used for this event (and also for the ear stitching the time she filleted her ear) is an East Indian man.  He is not my regular vet, but he is the closest vet, and the Emergency clinic as well, so we have only ever used this clinic when time was of the essence.  Thus Piper has had two Very Bad And Painful Experiences with the “Brown Guy” and has decided that all “Brown Guys” are bad.  Who says dogs don’t generalize?  Hogwash!  “Brown Guys” who are now scary include my (Mexican) stepdad – her formerly much loved Grandad – and my (black) sister, who used to be Snuggly Auntie Tanus.

I know this because yesterday my parents had to drive me and Piper home from work, since the Waggin’ Wagon is not really drivable – not on the highway anyway.  My sister came by to pick up a suitcase from my parents (she is now just about in Toronto, where she is styling the members of the band Hedley at the Junos!  She’s so cool.) and Piper hid in a corner and wouldn’t go near her.  And then when we stopped at the car dealership on the way home to drop off some paperwork for the loan I’m trying to get for my new-to-me Ford Escape (the KIA turned out to be a mechanical lemon, but that’s a story for another post), Piper was quite happy to snuzzle with all the (white) salesguys, and even the Asian one, but still refused to have anything to do with her Grandad.  In fact, if he tries to touch her she screams and runs away.

How embarrassing.  My dog is racist.

So that’s been my horrible, awful, bizarre week.  And now I have to drive the loud Toyota to physio and pray it makes it there and back.  But I wanted to thank you all, yet again, for pulling for my wee girlie.  I’m not a real “woo-woo, out there” kind of person, but I have no doubt that your strength helped her pull through.  Well, that and a little bit of the stubborn evil that resides inside my Bitch Princess ;-)

And here’s another way you can help us out, maybe.  If you’ve been thinking about a photo shoot of your pooches but haven’t gotten around to inquiring with me, now would be a most excellent time to drop me a line.  As you can well imagine, this experience was not cheap, and the timing was poor as I have to also drop a significant amount of cash on a down-payment for a new car.  Dexter’s neuter surgery has to be postponed yet again because I used his surgery money on Piper … and while I am sure he is happy to hang onto his balls a little longer, cash flow is tight ’round these parts.  I’m not asking for your charity – you have all been more than generous in the past when I needed help – but this photographer could use a few extra gigs right about now!  So please, send me an email if you are thinking that now is the time to get your dogs photographed.  In April I will also be working part time at the Delta Community Animal Shelter, so things are going to get better for us, monetarily speaking, but right now I wouldn’t say no to some legitimate income.

Lastly, but most definitely not least, TDBCR Sparky’s mum also needs your help.  On Tuesday evening, someone broke into her pasture and stole 17 of her 34 lambs – trapped them in the barn and then pitched them over the fence into a waiting truck.  The oldest would have been just 1 month and the youngest two were under a week.  She says “It would be merciful if they were slaughtered for meat right away, although they wouldn’t make more than a mouthful, even in the aggeregate.  Otherwise they will die, as they still need mothers’ milk.   Besides the RCMP,  I’ve contacted most of the shelters, abattoirs and auctions in the Lower Mainland.  If you happen to hear of someone trying to dispose of very young lambs, either through your shelter work or through the border collie contacts, please call the Langley RCMP.  They tell me that there is a lot of rustling going on right now and the thieves will most likely be back in a few days for the rest.” If you hear of anything that might point toward someone having a brand new bunch of ewe-less lambs in the Fraser Valley, or anywhere in BC actually, please contact the Langley RCMP.  Poor little lambs :(

And Happy Gotcha Day TWooie.  I’m sorry Piper stole your thunder ;-)


  1. Stephanie says:

    Happy Gotcha TWooie! I can’t believe it’s been a year already!

  2. Oh, so much up and down and scary and happy! Like a rollercoaster ride!

    Cats, like dogs, change their personality depending on the environment. We had this sweetest, most pushed-around cat that I adored, but the other cats were just plain mean to her. So we found her a new home. As it turns out, in that new environment, she was the top cat. Like a complete 180-degree turnaround.

    As for dogs being scared of “brown people”, my cousin’s dog was like that. It was the strangest thing, but it kinda makes sense. Poor little girl! Here’s hoping that she gets over it and gets lots of lovin’ and pets from her auntie and grandpa again soon!

  3. What a relief Piper is okay!

    I’d still love to read the Twooie stories, if you have time to write them – I can’t believe it’s been a year already! I always love reading about how far he’s come.

    Happy Gotcha day Twooie and Mr Orange!

  4. 1. Congratulations on your acquisition of another 4-legged critter. I wish I had your…let’s call it nerve. :) But alas, I am doomed to a boring life with only two dogs.

    2. Yay for Twooie’s successful year with you. I hope he knows what a lucky dog he is.

    3. Thank goodness re: Piper, and I bet you are right about the plant toxin…there’s a lot out there that is almost impossible to patrol or predict. Here’s hoping she ate the ONLY bad thing in all of the outdoors ANYWHERE, and there is nothing left for any of your sweeties to get into.

    4. I would have you photograph my dogs in an instant, but I’m not even close to being local, here in Dallas. More’s the pity. Hmphf!

  5. Happy gotcha day, Twooie! How splendid to see how you’ve come along in the past year!

    Glad to hear that Piper has recovered so well. I hafta say, sounds a lot more like a poisonous mushroom to me than anything else. My pup was expert at snatching them up off the ground when he was little. I got expert at dosing him with hydrogen peroxide.

    And yes, I’ve had a racist dog in the past, as well. Only she didn’t have the justification that Piper did. Beyond mortifying. Hopefully dried liver from Aunty and Granddad will provide the needed counterconditioning, eventually.

    Gotta ask: whatever happened to the link that let us donate to the cause? I enjoy your blog way more than things I pay for, so it’s past time for me to ante up!

  6. Reuben *always* used to growl at people in wheelchairs. Very embarrassing.

  7. Happy Gotcha Day, Twooie! And I am terribly partial to big orange cats, so Mr. Orange (despite his grumpy face, or maybe even because of it) is a welcome sight. He reminds me of Marmalade, my friend’s old tomcat who passed several years ago.

    Last (and certainly not least) I was thrilled to hear of Piper’s total recovery, and I have to admit that her ‘racist’ tendencies made me laugh a little. Surely she’d be reacting the same way if the vet had been an older Caucasian man, or a Native woman–she would likely continue to associate traumatic events with the one type of person. Funny the things they pick up. Perhaps continued or prolonged exposure to her friendly ‘brown’ family will help her get comfortable again. Glad to hear all is well on the Food Lady’s farm!

  8. So glad to hear Piper is recovered, I’ve been thinking about her a lot. I worry about our dogs getting into stuff because they seem to have a policy of eat first, ask questions later – and if I see them eating something I’d rather they not, they clench their jaws and swallow faster! This is in spite of my efforts from puppyhood to train them otherwise. Although our puppy class trainer insisted you can teach your dogs to ‘bring’ you things instead of gobble them down at high speed, it hasn’t really caught on around our house. So anyway, I’m glad to hear she’s got a clean bill of health after that scare! Sorry about her newly acquired Racism!

    Yay for Twooie! Happy Gotcha Day!

  9. The fact that Mr Orange is now sleeping on your sofa makes me love you more. But not in a creepy internet stalker way, really. Happy Gotcha Day, Twooie! And much relief that Piper is still here to boss him around.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Happy Gotcha Day!

    Firstly, could you give your racist bitch a collie cuddle from me? I’m so happy she is well again. I love all your crazy crew but as the owner of a wee collie girl, I have a huge soft spot for “politically incorrect” Piper. When we were kids, we also owned a “racist” collie who nipped the Asian doctor and our coalman. (The coalman was white but always had a black face and hands!)

    Twooie is looking great and makes me believe in fate, every time I read your blog.

    Jaffa, sorry, Mr Orange, sure has landed on his paws at the Food Lady’s home. While he may not be big on photography now – look at the smile on Twooie’s face after a year and I’m sure Mr Orange will be posing real soon.

    Hope the physio is going well.

    Had already heard about the theft of lambs through Ravelry. Thanks for highlighting this awful crime. Hopefully by spreading the word, sheep/goat owners are able to further secure their livestock where possible and inform their neighbours to be extra vigilant of strange vehicles and noises etc. Hopefully, the thieving b*st*rds will be caught soon and maybe your vet could remove their testicles too.

    Wishing you a more relaxing week.

  11. Glad to know Piper is okay, and that Mr. Orange met his match. :)

  12. Mr. Orange is adorable! Shelters are very stressful places for cats, some more than others. Sounds like Mr. Orange just isn’t a shelter cat.

    I love the old picture of TWooie — he really does look shell shocked! How nice to see the transformation in the next picture. I knew that you were making some serious progress with him when his pants-biting and other issues stopped being the focus of every post. Congratulations and happy gotcha day to both of you!

  13. Yay Piper! and yay svelte Twooey!
    And thank you for the mention of my poor lambs.

  14. Awww, all the Mr. Orange needed was a bit of love. Am I a total sap to have sniffled over that story? He’s such a handsome kitty!

    Happy gotcha day TWooie! I can’t believe it’s been a year. I also can’t believe he only weighs 25 pounds. He looks like a much bigger dog in the pictures (I say this, of course, realizing that many people think my 50 pound dog weighs 70 or more!).

    I’m so glad Piper is feeling like her old self. I hope she can overcome her new fears! My dog seems to have the opposite problem of Piper. She practically pulls me off my feet if she sees a black woman (usually of one certain body type). I often wonder if her last owner was a black woman.

  15. cinnamondog says:

    Wait, TWooie no longer bites you in the pants? But I thought that was hilarious! Oh well, okay, since he’s a happier and better-adjusted dog now, I guess I can get along without that laugh in my life …

    Yeah, what did happen to that PayPal button on the site? You know you’re not gonna come to Chicago to do a photo shoot of my Hooligans, but I’ll pitch a few bucks your way if I can do it with minimal effort (point and click, I can handle that). Mind you, as I pay for Sundance’s dental surgery, Rowley’s trip to the ER with HGE, and Mike’s ongoing battle with ehrlichia, it’s kind of amazing that I have ANY money in ANY bank account. Guess I won’t quit my day job just yet.

    Oh, and I didn’t tell you what they found in Sunny’s mouth that was causing his vile breath odor (it was like an open sewer): HAIR. Yes, my dog had a hairball. It was lodged behind his lower front teeth, he probably jammed random hairs there from licking his interdigital cyst, and the whole nasty clump just stayed there and festered and stunk until the vet found it on the dental surgery. My dog’s mouth had to be rodded out like a shower drain. Gah. I don’t know if I’m more disgusted or embarrassed!

  16. i have a racist dog too! and with not quite as good a reason as piper. it started when we lived in a townhouse where the landscaping guys (hired by the HOA) were all hispanic. we had big sliding glass doors to the patio that gave a great view of the guys mowing and leafblowing, and tyler would go berserk barking at the guys for being noisy and invading “his” yard. we don’t live there anymore, but he still doesn’t seem to like hispanic or black men. women don’t seem to be a problem!

  17. Happy Gotcha Day, TWooie!

    Your big orange guy sounds a lot like my big orange guy. He was a real jerk at the shelter too.

    So glad Piper is okay, poisonings are really scary as hell.

    I hope they find the lambs and the dirtbags who stole them. Who does that?! :(

  18. happy day twoo! and yay piper. and mr orange too! sorry about the lambs though.

  19. I laughed my whole way through the Mr. Orange part. Even the part about hime spitting and snarling in the shelter. Tragic of me really, there’s nothing funny about a cat in a shelter who bites. But I did. And I *really* started to laugh when I found you brought him home! Of *course* you did. What’s one more mean, biting, clawing cat after all? Really not a bad solution, at least he has a shot as a farm cat. And then… Puddin’! Laughing so hard.

    Wow, I can’t believe I’ts been over a year! I started reading 3WAAW somewhat before you got TWooie. Wow.

    Love the blog, love the crew. Especially Piper, don’t ask me why. Maybe I have a thing for slightly erm, different, dogs? She cracks me up.

    Very too bad about the lambs. My sad and sorry thought is that they might have been taken for their pelts and not for meat. :-( Boo. Not a happy ending.

  20. Wow, I disappear for a few days and all hell breaks loose. It looks like I missed all the drama but I’m very glad to hear that Piper made it back to the land of the living, and many happy returns of the day to Twooie and the rest of the pack.

    BTW, I disappeared because a certain puppy entered my life. Kepler has celebrated this new development by spontaneously mastering the display of Mad Teeth(tm), by which means he hopes to keep order in the house. Piper would be quite proud.

  21. Jonathan says:

    Yes, fostering certainly does hate you…:-)

    A certain little boy here says hi to everyone, but especially to Tweed.

    – shap

  22. It really is such a relief to know that Piper’s no worse for her experience! And I’d love to hear the Twooie Tales even if they aren’t posted on his Gotcha Day.

    My Poppy is the precise opposite of Mr. Orange. In the shelter, she was adorable and snuggly and the most loving cat ever.

    Now she’s been with me six months, she refuses to be stroked and it’s her mission to bite me at least once every day.

    Oh, well, pouncing on me from the top of the bookshelves keeps her entertained. And when she’s scared by something, she becomes remarkably snuggly again, so it’s probably a good sign that she’s plotting to rip my throat out.

  23. So glad to hear Piper’s doing OK. What a relief!
    Love the “after” pic of TWooie! Happy dog is happy.

  24. What an event-full week! Twoo is so lucky you both found each other! He looks so happy. And what a relief about Piper. I’m glad it wasn’t rat poison, but finding the source could be difficult.

    I had to laugh about the irony of taking home a spitting, snarling kitty only to have it turn out to be such a sweetie! Kuddos to you for rescuing him!

  25. Most embarrassing moment ever? Was at vet with 2 dogs in waiting room. Heard delivery truck pull up outside while I was bent over messing with Dog #1. Dog #2 starts going NUTS because she hates all things delivered/diesel(?). Door opens and I am still not looking in that direction trying to corral both dogs. I try to salvage the situation by cheekily saying ‘I’m so sorry… She hates your kind…’…. And look up to see a black delivery man standing there, who clearly mistook the modifier…. Thank you dog for making me look like a bigot.

  26. I volunteer w/ cats at our shelter, and had one, while not as fearsome as Mr. O, that hated other cats in such close proximity. Mittens would walk around hissing at the other cats, and hiss at you, too, if you tried to pet her. But if you took her into another room, she climbed into your lap and purred away, never minding the barking dogs next door.

    And if Mr. O is too much for your menagerie (or Donut and Sad Kitty (Carl?) hate him, there’s always people hankering for friendly big orange cats(I’m partial myself). Maybe you can put a posting in your shelter.

    Twooie has come so far with your guidance!

    Glad Piper is okay even if it did leave her with lingering mistrust.

  27. Happy Gotcha day TWooie! I really can’t believe it’s been a year already. Wow.

  28. I’m so very glad to hear that Piper is better!
    The new (or new to me) captions *on* the photos make me laugh – it’s like a bonus! Twooie has come a long way in a year. I remember looking at the very first picture and wondering why you dyed Mr. Woo’s ears and the top of his head black…

  29. Happy gotcha day Twooie! Glad Piper’s better too!

  30. clairesmum says:

    happy Gotcha day, Twooie! By now I think you do know what a lucky dog you are, to be living with the Food Lady. Mr. Orange seems to have found his home as well – tho he might need a more individual name, as you get to know him. If you bring back the donation link, I’ll be glad to make a deposit – or a tip jar so the funds go right to you and not the shelter program. Your blog is as good for me and as much fun (or more) as a whole lotta stuff that I spend money on, so I’d be glad to help support the vet bills and pet food bills at Casa de Food Lady!

  31. Awesome Post….love the big orange guy and so glad that Piper is back to her old self (other than the problem with “brown” people–lol) If I were close to your area of the country, I would definitely commission you for a photo shoot, but alas I am not. :(
    Hope you get the loan for your new doggie transport.

  32. Ha! Mr Orange is a colorful:) counterpoint to Mr Blue. I’m glad you found a pleasant surprise this time!

    Happy gotcha Twooie and Beachball! Ah, another year gone by following Wootube! I have been a fan for almost 5 years now, and yours is still my favorite blog after all that time!

    Gizmo would love to be photographed, but alas I am in Oregon, and so is he. But I would “subscribe” again if the button came back. Would make me feel less like a Lurker!

  33. Oops, I meant 4 years. But that is still a long time!

  34. Happy gotcha day TWooie! I’m sorry you got a cat. Maybe next year the food lady can get you something dead and stinky to make up for it.

  35. I want to know whats up with Donut… or did I miss something?!

  36. Do you or any of the folks you talked with have any ideas what sort of plant/fungus would cause that reaction in a canine? I spend a lot of time in the woods with my BC mix, and even though he’s not a big eater of strange things, I’d still love to know what to look out for.

    I also teach primitive skills and wilderness survival skills, so I know a fair number of our local plants (I’m just south of Seattle, so the ecology is similar to yours). I can think of some mushrooms that would have neurotoxic effects, but it seems odd for a dog to eat one for no reason. They don’t necessarily smell or taste good. But I’ve only studied them in terms of their toxicity to humans, and have never really thought about toxicity to dogs.

    As a sidenote, I once had a dog with really similar symptoms and outcome. In his case, we were able to recount the story of the day and talk with everyone who was near the dog during the day and discovered that Tobias had been taking big whiffs of some engine cleaner spray while we weren’t paying attention. (His primary owner ran a mechanic shop.) So this dog also didn’t have anything weird in his bloodwork, no internal damage or liver or kidney stuff. He had one night of terrifying seizures from his experiments in huffing, and then according to the vet, his brain worked out how to reroute itself to bypass the areas that were damaged by the fumes, and he was fine ever after.

  37. FYI, I put the question out to a bunch of my naturalist friends, one of whom is also a vet. All agreed that the symptoms sound a lot like toad toxicity. We have a toxic toad here in Western WA (Bufo boreas), but I don’t know if you would have that one in BC. The more likely culprit is a rough-skinned newt, which has highly potent neuro-toxic skin secretions, and is probably migrating in your neck of the woods right now. A newt is the sort of thing that, if I was a dog, I would totally try to eat one. Much more likely than the rare toxic mushroom.

    Here’s the wiki on rough-skinned newts, which has pics

    And don’t get them mixed up with the ensatinas, which are also a kind of newt and are also migrating right now and are adorable and harmless. (Here in WA, we have just plain grey ones with orangey legs, not any of the spotted ones, but I don’t know about BC).

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