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For The Love of Cats—And Dogs!


Many years ago, shortly after moving into my first apartment, I adopted a cat from a nearby shelter. Maxine, a Manx, was a quirky feline who had a penchant for anything shiny. If a piece of jewelry ever went missing, I knew to look for it under the pillow in Maxi’s bed. There, I’d also find coins, bottle tops, hooks, etc. Once I even discovered a teaspoon. How she managed to drag the thing from the kitchen into her lair was an unsolved mystery. After a while, I started referring to her as Clepto Kitty.

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of adopting several cool cats and one amazing dog. (I’d use the word “owning” but anyone who’s ever cohabitated with a cat understands that they pretty much “own” you)

Having lived with both types of animals, I know firsthand how our four-legged friends provide emotional support and add to our quality of life.

But beyond simply enriching our lives, studies have shown that the benefits of having a cat or dog extend far beyond basic companionship. In fact, simply petting a “fur baby” can lower your blood pressure. It also slows your breathing and relaxes muscle tension, which in turn lessens stress. Sounds pretty good, right?

In case you’re wondering if I’m a “cat person” or a “dog person”, I suppose the answer would be that although I love both, at this point in my life, I’m back to where I started and that’s with a cat. I’m down to just one now, a tortoise-shell female named Alto. Her foster mom told me Alto was a “vicinity cat” which means she likes to be near you but doesn’t necessarily want to be touched. That being said, she’s an “easy pet” as opposed to some of the more “high-maintenance” creatures that have dwelled under our roof. (Kind of like some of the people I know)

However, even the most demanding cat is easier to care for than a dog. Think about it—cats don’t require things like walks, obedience school, or training collars. Unlike a dog, you can leave a cat alone for an extended period of time and not worry it might have “an accident” in the house. They (hopefully) will use their tidy litterbox. Easy-peasy!

For those of you thinking this is a cat vs. dog article, believe me, it’s not. I’m a huge fan of our canine friends. In fact, last summer, our youngest son Nick acquired a new buddy named Dallas.

Dallas D. Coppersworth (as his birth certificate states), has brought us all a great deal of joy. He is what they call an “action dog”, which is a fun way of describing a dog is who is extremely high-energy and requires tons of exercise—the exact opposite of Alto.

Because Nick lives fairly close to us, my husband James and I get to babysit Dallas pretty frequently. He has his own bed and a basket full of toys at our house too.

One of the things I love most about this spirited Vizsla is how thrilled he is every time he trots through our front door. Dallas treats every reunion as if he hasn’t seen us in months—no matter if we’ve just seen each other the previous day.

So, after a few moments of happy hello barks, sloppy licks, and excited jumping, Dallas is satisfied we all understand the depth of his devotion to us. At this point, our grand-dog will remember there’s one more family member he has yet to greet.

Of course, Alto, who barely tolerates her humans, has no use for Dallas. She’ll disappear upstairs until she’s certain he’s left the building. Once the coast is clear, she'll saunter rather arrogantly into the kitchen. It's then I’ll receive a look of sheer disdain when she realizes Dallas has polished off everything in her food and water bowls. As I rush to dutifully refill her dishes, she’ll sometimes give me a shrill meow. I figure it's her way of saying thanks.

And while it’s not the adoring affection showered upon me by Dallas, I’ll take whatever I can get from Alto. After all, as with any feline, a little “cat-titude” just comes with the territory!

Dallas snoozing in our living room.


From The Great Outdoors

Our gardens are slowly rebounding from February's record-setting cold. While we've lost quite a few plants and shrubs to the winter blast, there have been some pleasant surprises sprouting up here and there. This patch of ajuga for example provides a splash of color amid the struggling ferns in our St. Francis garden.


Remarkably, this showy groundcover (also called bugleweed or ground pine), is the genus of 40 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the Ajugeae tribe of the mint family. After witnessing how hearty it is, we'll definitely be adding more ajuga to our beds this spring.

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I hope this Easter season is a blessed one for you and yours!

Love,

Monica