The Best Book Ever Is ‘Dream of Night’

Dream of Night (3)

As someone who reads far too many books, it’s difficult for me to chose my favorite — but this might be the one.  I first read Dream of Night by Heather Henson about 8 years ago, and this month I decided to re-read it.  As I finished the last page and closed the book, I grinned from ear to ear.  It was just as amazing as I remembered!  

The idea behind the story is this: a broken girl and a broken horse escape from their abusive situations and end up on a peaceful farm in Kentucky.  But that doesn’t mean they’re free.  Both are still chained to their pasts; both are furious at the world and hold everyone at arm’s length.  Heather Henson eloquently compares it to scar tissue; a tough, ugly exterior, “covering the hurt place”.  (page 109)

The girl’s name is Shiloh, and I was immediately fascinated by her.  Like Shiloh, (and like most teenagers) I passed through an angry phase.  I thought my life was terrible and no one understood me.  Now I realize that there is a world of difference between the traumas of Shiloh’s abusive past and my tranquil suburban upbringing — but our mindsets were the same.  “Never let anyone in.  Never show you care.  Never be weak.”  

After Shiloh arrives on the farm, she meets the other main character: a horse named Dream of Night.  Once an injury derailed his racing career, this proud Thoroughbred falls into the hands of a man who abuses and neglects him.  The horrors he endured from that man changed Dream of Night into Nightmare.  He actually tries to kill anyone who dares approach.  

Fortunately, both the horse and the girl are lifted out of their terrible situations and sent to a Kentucky farm for recovery.  There, they both encounter Jessalynn DiLima, the owner of the farm.  Ironically, the woman who is supposed to help them heal is carrying her own, mysterious hurt…  

I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it is so powerful and beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes.  

If you love horses, or character development, or stories of hope and healing — or all 3 — then this book is for you!  

Well, that’s all I have time for this week, dear readers.  So until next time: stay fuzzy, my friends!  

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Cutest Animal Odd Couples from the Dodo

Friendship can come in all shapes and sizes.  Your best friend might just be someone who is your polar opposite (I know mine is).  These animals prove that anyone can be a good friend, even someone you would never expect.  For example… 

A Dog and a Cat. 

tuco and figgy

Dogs and cats hate each other, right?  Well, not these 2!  Tuco is the dog, and Figgy is the cat.  A human found Figgy on the streets when she was only 5 weeks old.  The human brought Figgy home and cared for her. 

But there was just one problem: the human already had a dog!  So the owner took steps to carefully introduced them to each other.  She put them both in crates and made them stare at each other for a long time.  Then over the course of 2 weeks, the owner moved the carriers gradually closer and closer; until finally they started to like each other.  It was the start of a solid friendship. 

Yes, these animals are good friends, despite being nothing alike!  As a typical dog, Tuco is a big softie, needy yet loving.  Figgy is more of a gangster-type; after all, he did come from the streets!  

A Dog and a Raccoon.

june raccoon and waffles dog
https://www.instagram.com/juneandwaffles/

The raccoon in the photo is named June, and the dog is Waffles.  Their story begins in a backyard in Arkansas.  A mother raccoon chose an oak tree in that backyard as the perfect spot for a maternal nest.  Then somehow, one of the babies (June) ended up on the ground.  

The humans who owned the backyard left her alone at first, hoping that June’s mother would come to save her.  But for some reason, she didn’t.  A cold night was coming on, so at 2 days old, June was adopted and raised by humans. 

Later on, once June was grown up, the humans figured that she needed a friend.  They adopted Waffles.  The 2 animals met in the backyard; they sniffed each other, and it was love at first sight.  Ever since, Waffles has acted as June’s bodyguard.  Waffles follows June wherever she goes.  Naturally, June the raccoon gets into all sorts of trouble.  But when she does decide to finally settle down, responsible Waffles is right there to snuggle up with her.  But you already know this.  One look at that photo and it’s obvious they are quite the cute odd couple.  

A Cat and a Horse.  

champy and morris
https://www.instagram.com/champy_and_morris/

Say hello to Champy the horse and Morris the cat!  Morris was born in a shelter.  The poor thing had to live in a cage for months. 

Fortunately, a human adopted Morris.  She brought him home and let him outside for the first time.  As Morris explored the porch, Champy kept on hanging around; he insisted on befriending the prickly cat.  Then, a few days later, Morris leapt up and landed on Champy’s back!  This gets more incredible when another factor is added: Morris was the first to ever ride Champy. 

From there on out, a beautiful friendship bloomed.  The 2 groom each other, and Champy is very gentle with Morris.  Champy is very smitten with Morris.  In fact, Champy will often forgo the company of other horses just to be with Morris.  

A Human and a Chipmunk.  

van gogh the chipmunk

The chipmunk’s name is Van Gogh, or VG, for short.  Ally named him that because of the chunk missing from his ear.  Ally Calmusky is the human in this picture.  Ally’s mom owned a backyard that acts sort of like a wildlife refuge.  Ally often went there to feed lots of different animals, but VG stood out because of how friendly he was.  He would come up close to Ally to eat the peanuts she provided.  Eventually, he started climbing up onto her hand. 

Although technically still a wild chipmunk, VG was very tame.  When Ally called his name, he always ran over.  He was completely comfortable climbing up her, or letting her pet him.  VG was even jealous of his precious human.  If other chipmunks dared to approach Ally, VG chased them off!  

But one day, tragedy struck.  VG went missing!  No matter how many times Ally called him, he never appeared.  A month passed, and still no sign of him. 

Then he came back!  Ally says that it was one of the happiest days of her life.  Ally may never know why VG left, but now he’s back to stay.  If you want to see more of this adorable duo, check out their Instagram.  

https://www.instagram.com/vangoghthechippy/

So which odd couple is your favorite?  Which one is the cutest?  Leave a comment and let me know!  My personal favorite is Ally and VG.  Chipmunks are one of my favorite animals, but unlike cats and dogs, they are very skittish and almost impossible to tame.  

Anyway, this post took me a long time to write, so I hope you enjoyed it!  And as always: stay fuzzy, my friends!  

 

Sources

I Rescued a Butterfly!

butterfly rescue
The Black Swallowtail I Saved

Last Wednesday, I was sitting inside my home, petting my cat and looking out on my deck.  A black butterfly floated by, but I thought nothing of it.  Just then, something happened.  A stray gust of wind must have caught the butterfly wrong, because he suddenly back-flipped through the air and landed on his back!  Lying on the deck’s boards, his legs kicked helplessly in the air.  

I immediately yanked the door open and stepped outside.  I thought: “Don’t worry, little guy!  I’ll save you!”  I extended my finger to him and his little legs grabbed on.  

I knew that butterflies get their nutrients from mud, and the soil in one of the flower pots on the deck was saturated.  So I quickly lowered my hand down to the rim of the pot.  The butterfly crawled off.  

As he just sat there, opening and closing his wings, I hovered nervously nearby.  Was he alright?  Was he hurt?  If he could fly, why didn’t he?  

I remember when I was a kid, I found a butterfly in my backyard with half of a wing missing.  (Ironically, she was also a black butterfly.)  I took her in and cared for her as a pet.  Thinking back, I recall that her favorite food was blueberry yogurt.  

With vague plans of feeding this butterfly swirling in my mind, I picked him up again.  I walked down the deck steps to the ground.  Since the little fellow seemed perfectly content to perch on my hand, I paused to snap a few photos.  

Now he started to move.  He crawled up my hand, up my arm, and across my back.  I laughed.  What did he think he was doing, exploring new lands for Spain?  

Then he flew up into the air.  I smiled; he apparently wasn’t hurt at all!  Perhaps the fall onto his back had stunned him, but that was it.  

The pretty thing flew up to the deck again, landing on the wire railing.  I rushed up there, thinking: That would make a lovely photo!  I managed to get a few more nice pictures, including the one at the top of this post — then he flew off into the trees.  He was gone.  

This incident may seem like a small thing to some people, but little things mean everything, don’t they?  And besides, what’s better than saving a life?  For an animal lover like me, it was the Best.  Day.  Ever!  

Stay fuzzy, my friends!  

 

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I stayed up all night to save the life of an adorable, baby chipmunk.  And it worked!  Read the full story here: 

https://fuzzyfanaticblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/baby-chipmunk-saved/

7 Myths about Horses

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While almost no one believes in unicorns, a surprising number of people hold other wrong ideas about horses.  These old wives tales tell us things like horses only sleep standing up.  But today we will set the record straight.  Read until the end to see how many of these you already knew!  

1. Riding is Not a Sport.  

Granted, horseback riding might not be as strenuous as sprinting the 500-meter, but it is still a sport.  Back when I was taking riding lessons, I was in the best shape of my life!  When you are riding a horse, you are constantly working on your balance, moving your hands, tapping with your legs, etc.  If your instructor asks you to hold a 2-point position, or post the trot, then you are in for a good workout.  And heaven forbid your teacher decides it’s time for some no-stirrup work!  Your legs will be sore for days!  

Things only get more intense once you’re on the ground.  You’ll have to heft around a 25 to 40 pound Western saddle.  You will support part of a horse’s 1200 pound weight as you clean out his feet.  And perhaps most impressively, you’ll need to dead-lift hay bales that weigh between 50 to 100 pounds!  

Yes, there can be no question about it — horseback riding is a sport.  

 

2. Horses Only Sleep Standing Up.  

This myth is partially true.  Horses do indeed sleep upright most of the time.  They have a special “stay apparatus” where their knee tendons and ligaments lock up; this way, they can relax their muscles completely and not fall down.  Horses need this ability in the wild, where they must be ready to flee from predators at any second.  

But horses still need some REM sleep, and this can only be attained by lying down.  While experts disagree about exactly how much REM sleep equines need, it is safe to say that if you never catch your horse lying down, then you might have a problem.  

 

3. Petting a Horse’s Muzzle Shows Love.  

Did you know that horses don’t like being petted on the nose?  Indeed, contrary to what you may have seen on book covers and movie posters, most horses don’t like humans touching their muzzles.  The muzzle/nose is a delicate sensory organ, nearly akin to human eyes, so don’t touch!  Instead, a pat on the neck or a rub on the forehead is much more enjoyable for equines.  

 

4. Horses are Stupid.  

A friend of mine used to think of horses as “land fish”, but that was before he met me, of course!  I quickly corrected this misconception.  Understandably, if you only ever saw horses as they were just standing around in a pasture, then you would probably think of them as not smart.  You might think of them as goldfish — simple-minded enough to contently swim around the same tank for weeks on end.  

Now, I don’t know a lot about fish, but horses are certainly more intelligent than that.  If you have ever watched an Olympian ride a dressage horse, then you know this is true.  Horses can be taught to perform hundreds of movements that they would never do in the wild.  And it takes no training for a horse to open his stall door!  Furthermore, a study in Norway showed that horses can even ask for things.  Scientists put up 3 signs, and each sign represented a different choice for the horse: should his blanket be put on, removed, or should things stay the way they were?  And after only 11 days, the horses knew what to do!  If it was hot out, they wanted the blanket removed; if it was cold, they wanted the reverse.  Isn’t that amazing?!  

Read the full story here: https://fuzzyfanaticblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/18/horses-might-be-smarter-than-you-think/

 

5. Horses Can’t See Color.  

Of course, it is difficult to tell exactly what animals see, since they can’t tell us.  (So I may have to modify this statement slightly in the future.)  But for now, science tells us that horses can indeed see colors — just not as many as we do.  Horses can see 2 of the 3 colors that humans can: green and blue.  Equines cannot see red.  When confronted with something red, the horse’s mind will substitute a shade of green instead, just like a red-green colorblind human would.  So horses seeing in hues of grey is a myth.  

 

6. Horses Come When Called.  

Horses aren’t big dogs.  They aren’t as desperate as dogs to please humans.  You, as the horse’s owner, are an important part of their world, but you aren’t their whole world.  Horses are more like cats than dogs.  They may love you a lot, but their way of showing it will be subtle.  

So don’t expect your horse to come galloping over the instant you call.  I’ve never met a horse who came when he was called; in fact, many ran away when I approached.  

Now, you can train a horse to come when you call him, but it’s not a built-in behavior with equines.  

 

7. White Hooves are Weak.  

This myth started hundreds of years ago, before modern science existed.  Horsemen back in the day thought that white hooves were weaker because of the lighter color.  After all, the thinner the material, the more light gets through, and the brighter the color.  But now we have X-rays, and scientists have learned that hooves are all made up of the same materials, regardless of their color.  The American Farrier Journal confirms this.
(https://bit.ly/30MGrPF)

 

So how many of these did you already know?  Did any of these surprise you?  Leave a comment and let me know!  

If you are interested in learning more about horses, I recommend checking out https://horseaddict.net/.  This blog is run by Anne Leueen — horse expert, word smith, and my friend.  She updates her site multiple times a week with funny, inspirational or informative posts.  Even if you don’t particularly care for horses, you still will probably love her site, so go check it out!  

And until next time: stay fuzzy, my friends!  

11 Hilarious Dog Shaming Photos

When I was growing up, my family owned a dog.  Her name was Dyna, and she was a black Labrador/Chow Chow mix.  I loved Dyna!  She was the ultimate guard dog, and I always felt safe when she was around.  We enjoyed going on thousands of fun walks together, exploring the world around my home.  Plus, she was very loving.  

She only had one real flaw: she loved to chew everything.  Plastic toys?  Yup.  Wooden doors?  Yummy!  Wooden fences?  For breakfast.  She even tried her paw at metal a few times.  

We couldn’t seem to break her of this habit.  Fortunately, she was never hurt in her culinary adventures, and it became more of a nuisance than anything else.  

Dog-shaming didn’t exist back then, but if it had, we would have had plenty of material!  

Dog-shaming is the Internet trend started by Pascale Lemire in 2012, and it immediately went viral.  Humans everywhere were posting photos of their dogs with paper cards around their necks denouncing their latest bad behavior, often with the destroyed item in frame.  It was a way to vent, probably, but it morphed into something else — something funnier.  

Personally, I find it hilarious the crazy antics dogs do!  So I decided to collect some of the funniest photos from Pascale’s site, dogshaming.com. 

I hope you enjoy!  

1. Then the Police Came…

dog shaming cops

These owners left their black Labrador home alone to see what he would do.  They were shocked when he opened the garage door and triggered the alarm!  “Then the police came…”  What a Christmas gift!  

But let’s try and see things from the dog’s perspective: They left him home.  Alone.  At Christmas.  

Naturally, the pup thought he was starring in the Home Alone remake!  

2. Mommy, Look What I Did!  

dog shaming destruction

Once upon a time, there was a man, his wife, and their dog.  The man left for work earlier than normal, so his wife was still asleep.  Little did she know what was occurring downstairs… 

The dog felt lonely, so she “ate the couch in order to spend more time with mom this morning before she left for work…[!]”  

This little pup doesn’t seem ashamed at all.  If anything, she looks proud of what she did!  

3. Bake Fail

dog shaming pancakes

Aggie the dog got hungry when her humans slept in, so she destroyed a flour sack.  Logic!  

On a side note, this reminds me of the infamous Malt-O-Meal incident of 2017…  

4. I’m Sure We’ve All Done This 

dog shaming digger

The guilty party’s name is Simone.  She dug up Grandma’s flower bed, then she decided to make some improvements on the curb appeal!  

5. Would You Like Coffee?  Juice?  Punch?  

dog shaming punch

“This morning I woke up my mom by jumping onto the bed and punching her in the face.”  

No explanation is given.  Nor is one needed.  

6. The Case of the Killer Pillow

dog shaming pillow

The paper reads: “The pillow made an attempt on my life.  I fought back.”  

Dogshaming.com adds: “No witnesses would testify against this.”  

‘Nuff said!  

7. Why Are We Out of Eggs?  Again?  

dog shaming eggs

While his humans were out shopping, this dog stole 6 eggs.  He ate 4 and “buried” 2 more in the couch for midnight snacks.  

Here is his shameful confession: “While my family was shopping (and ironically considering one of those fancy “treat puzzles” for me) … I was making up my own games and having yummy treats anyways!”  

8. Always Look on the Bright Side!  

dog shaming carrots

Alice the dog likes veggies.  A lot.  Her owners try to keep her from eating too many of them, “but sometimes when no one is paying attention…” 

She eats a garden’s worth of carrots.  Here is her confession in her own words: “Although my penalty is to join Carrot Eaters Anonymous, my vision has significantly improved.”  

9. Bon appétit!  

dog shaming eating
via @_crmzchan_ from Twitter

This dog ate a whole tray of pigs in blankets.  Then he had some paper for dessert!  

(For those of you who don’t know, “pigs in a blanket” is a food that consists of a sausage or a hot dog wrapped in either a croissant-style pastry or bacon.)  

10. Ironically Ironic

dog shaming chew

After the human owners bought the Dog-Shaming book by Pascale, they placed it on the coffee table and went to work.  Then Bentley the dog ate it.  Later, the owners emailed a photo of the destruction to dogshaming.com.  The irony has layers!

But at least the owners can laugh about it.  “Can’t even be mad about it”, they chuckle.    

11. Mistakes Were Made.  

dog shaming hilarious

The owners went to lunch.  They came back to this.  

I don’t know what the owners thought, but this is hilarious to me!  Definitely my favorite!  

Which one do you like best, dear reader?  Leave a comment and let your opinion be known!  

Before I close, I have to give a big “thank you” to Pascale Lemire and dogshaming.com for sharing these hilarious photos with the world.  For more laughs like these, check out the original site.  

(https://www.dogshaming.com/)  

Next week we will bust common myths about horses.  For example, did you know that horses don’t like being petted on the muzzle?  Indeed, contrary to what you may have seen on book covers and movie posters, most horses don’t like humans touching their muzzles.  It’s a delicate sensory organ, nearly akin to human eyes, so don’t touch!  A pat on the neck or a rub on the forehead is much more enjoyable for equines.  

For more interesting horse facts, tune in next time!  But until then: stay fuzzy, my friends!  

How to Stop Your Cat from Waking You Up

cat-2560168_1920

Cats sleep more than sloths.  So why do they tear around the house at 3 A.M. meowing their heads off?!  First you hear the thumps of running paws, then the bangs as your chubby kitty jumps off of every available horizontal surface, accompanied by ear-piercing meows, and finally (horror of horrors) the crash of something valuable hitting the floor.

Cats seem like such sleepy animals, so why do they act this way?  And is there anything you, as their harried owner, can do to get a good night’s sleep?  

Yes, there is.  But first, the answer as to why cats behave like this.  

No matter how cute and sleepy Fluffy may appear in the daytime, at night she will turn into a speed demon!  That is to say, even the most calm, domesticated cat still has the instincts of her wild ancestors coursing through her veins.  Cats were made to be nocturnal hunters.  As cat expert Jackson Galaxy explains, every day they have to “hunt, catch, and kill” prey.  

However, indoor cats have no prey to hunt, so their predatory instincts may appear in other, unpleasant behaviors, such as attacking other cats or even humans.  In reality, meowing, running, and waking you up is the most benign way Fluffy can react to her instincts.  

But don’t worry, you do not have to live with this.  When you come home from work or school, here’s what you should do: 

1. Start with Stroking.  When you get home, give Fluffy attention by petting and talking to her.  Chances are, she’s been left home alone all day, and she’s feeling a little lonely.  So give her some love.  This is necessary because one of the reasons that cats wake their owners up at night is to get attention.  Naturally, attention during the daytime lessens that need.  

2. Next, Exercising.  This second step is critical.  If you complete all of the other steps but ignore this one, it won’t work.  Playing with your kitty is the perfect way to soothe her hunting instincts.  Furthermore, it’s a great way to bond with your cat, and (quite frankly) it’s fun.  For me, it’s hilarious to see my dignified, queen-like kitty just go crazy over a piece of string.  

Now, there are dozens of ways you can play with your cat, and I’ve written a 3 part series thoroughly covering them all.  If you are interested in reading it, just search “cat playtime” on my site.  But here’s the basic idea: playtime should happen every day for 20 minutes. 

“But what if Fluffy doesn’t want to play?” you might ask.  Well, I’ll let you in on a secret: the key to getting Fluffy engaged is to be engaged yourself.  Fluffy won’t care if you don’t.  So get up off of that couch and run around a little.  Try various toys, and make each one dart across the floor like a scared prey animal.  Fluffy will love this!  

(And of course, if you’re exhausted and don’t feel like playing much, feel free to use some catnip.)  

3. Feeding Time Follow-Up.  After playtime, you should feed your cat immediately.  It doesn’t really matter if you use canned meat or fresh, just so long as it is food meant for feline consumption.  The point of this is to mimic how cats behave in the wild.  Remember our mantra: “hunt, catch, kill”?  Well, we should add another word to it — eat; because, of course, after a cat kills its dinner it’s time to feast!  

4. In Bed, Ignore the Interruptions.  So you’ve given your cat attention, exercise, and a meal — now it’s time to go to bed.  Once you are in bed, the hardest step of all begins.  You must ignore everything your cat does.  Jumping up on your stomach?  Ignore it.  Meowing in your face for 30 minutes?  Ignore it.  If you give up and get up to pet Fluffy, or feed her, or even yell at her, you’re giving Fluffy exactly what she wants: attention.  Doing so will only encourage her to repeat her behavior in the future.  So stay strong and stay in bed.  It may take a week or two, but eventually Fluffy will give up; she will stop annoying you at night.  

You have broken the cycle.  The years of peaceful sleep are spreading out in front of you.  Congratulations! 

And now for the question of the week: have you ever owned a pet who had an annoying habit?  What did you do to stop it?  (Or was it as unavoidable as the Ice Age?  Did it cause you to live a life of quiet, yet palpable, despair?!)  But joking aside, I would love to hear from you.  Let’s chat in the comments!  

So until next time: stay fuzzy, my friends!  

 

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https://fuzzyfanaticblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/20-cat-memes-to-make-you-laugh/

Man vs Dog: Who Will Win This Grueling Race through the Desert?

Spoiler alert: the dog wins!  

cactus the dog

The dog’s name is Cactus.  Back in April, he joined the world’s toughest race and easily ran over 100 miles (160 km) through the Sahara desert.  As one does.  

But let’s back up some.  His real name is Diggedy; Cactus is just the nickname given to him by his fellow marathon runners.  

Cactus’ owner is one Karen Hadfield, who takes care of an inn for artists in Morocco.  “How did she get Cactus?” you might ask.  Did she go to the local shelter and pick him out?  

Nope.  The animal choose the human.  Just like how my cat (Queen Autumn) walked out of the woods and selected me as her slave, so did Cactus.  Last year on the night of Karen’s birthday, Cactus simply walked up to her tent, and never left.  

Well, that’s not exactly true.  Cactus leaves the inn all the time to scratch his nomadic itch, sometimes staying away from home for days at a time.  According to his owner, he often travels 40 km (25 miles) a day, “just for fun”.  But he always returns.  

Karen was so used to his wanderings that she didn’t notice he had followed the marathon runners — until she saw posts about it online.  

Why would a dog do such a thing?  

“He is a herder.”  Karen theorized.  “Here in the village, he is always herding other animals[.]  I think when he saw the runners come by he decided this group needed looking after too.”

Karen was right.  It wasn’t long before one of the humans needed Cactus’ help.  Stephen Homesy of Washington, USA, “strayed from the line that most runners were taking”, according to the New York Times.  

In the desert, everything looks alike.  With identical dunes stretching out to the horizon, a fear began to prick in Stephen’s mind: “Am I headed to nowhere?”  

Then Cactus ran by Stephen, and Stephen fell in behind the dog.  

“I don’t know why I followed,” Stephen admitted, “but it seemed to be a sign that he knew where he was going.”  

Indeed, it was.  Because soon after, Cactus led Stephen back to the main track.  Stephen was safe — thanks to Cactus.  

Cactus also cheered up the humans.  Laughter and smiles abounded in the bivouac each night.  Even after an exhausting day of running, everyone was eager to pet the new mascot, feed him, and share their water with him.  

cactus water.PNG

“Exhausting” might not begin to cover the agony these runners went through.  This race is called the Marathon des Sables, which is French for the “Marathon of the Sands”.  The Discovery Channel has called it the Toughest Footrace on Earth.  Entrants need to run for 6 days through the blistering heat and uncertain footing of the Sahara Desert in Morocco.  During five of those days of suffering, they must run an average of 23 miles (New York Times).  That’s about 37 kilometers.  

You might be wondering why anyone would do this voluntarily.  I know I am!  

But wait — it gets worse.  On one of those days, the goal is much, much harder to reach.  The longest stage is 76.3 km, or 47 miles.  For some runners, this grueling stage can take an incredible 32 hours to complete.  

So naturally, the humans were worried about Cactus attempting such a feat.  He had already been running for 2 days!  

But the medical staff examined Cactus, and pronounced him more healthy than many humans that they had seen.  So Cactus was allowed to attempt it.  

The long stage began.  Cactus ran.  And ran.  And ran.  

When he arrived at the 16-mile checkpoint, the trouble started.  Cactus vomited slightly and had to take a break in the shade under a truck.  The New York Times reports: “He seemed to drink little or none of the water placed at his side. But he then got up and continued on his way….”  

In addition to his other troubles, Cactus ran into a sandstorm!  

But finally, as the sun went down, things started to turn around for Cactus.  In the desert, temperatures sink rapidly after the sun sets, and the cool relief was just what Cactus needed.  He perked up considerably.  

Later that night, Cactus crossed the finish line!  The other runners clapped and cheered.  His time was 11 hours and 15 minutes — a fraction of what it took many of the humans!  

In celebration, he casually ran a few more miles/kilometers (Morocco World News).  As one does.  

By now, Cactus was a star.  He was the unofficial mascot of the event; he was going viral online; he was more popular than any of the human competitors.  He may have come in 52nd overall, but I can safely say that he placed first in our hearts.  So naturally, in honor of such a canine, they awarded Cactus a medal!  

cactus won

As if that weren’t enough, Cactus kept racing for an impressive 2 more days before his owner Karen came and brought him home.  It was time for some well-deserved R&R…  

And there you have it — the story of Cactus!  I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!  

Before I end this post, a quick note to my regular readers.  I must apologize to you — I haven’t written anything for over 2 weeks!  That’s rather unusual for me; I typically try to post more often than that.  The reason is the month of June has been crazy-busy for me.  But from here on out, I intend to post regularly again.  

Thank you for being patient, and stay fuzzy, my friends!  

 

Sources

To All the Horses I’ve Loved Before Part 2

Years ago I took riding lessons every week, and I rode many different horses.  It wasn’t long before I realized that horses have colorful personalities, much like people.  Some are the strong, silent types; some are pranksters; some are ice queens.  The cast of characters is enormous!  

I was inspired by James Herriot to try and capture the core of each character with my keyboard.  In an attempting that, a few weeks ago I wrote part 1 of “To All the Horses I’ve Loved Before”, describing 4 of the most striking horses I’ve ever met.  If you haven’t read part 1 already, then here’s the link.  

https://fuzzyfanaticblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/horses-ive-loved-before/

But after I wrote that, I realized — I still had more!  So today we’ll explore 4 more vivid equine personalities, starting with…  

Snowball: The Tiny Firecracker 

animal-cavalry-equestrian-629139

Snowball was the first horse I ever rode.  (Technically she was a pony, but you know what I mean.)  I was only 6 or 7 back then, so I don’t remember much about her.  What I do remember is that she was an all-white pony, and I rode her Western.  She seemed very calm when I rode her, but apparently she had a fiery streak that I never saw.  

Instead, my brother got to see it.  He was also taking riding lessons at the time, and one day the instructor decided to teach him how to go on a trail ride.  As they rode down the forest path, they reached a fallen log.  My brother expected Snowball to walk around it.  

Nope!  Snowball, a Western-only pony for newbies, jumped over the log!  My brother lurched backward in the saddle, and he had to cling onto the saddle horn to stay on.  He was more than a bit surprised.  

It just goes to show that there’s never a dull moment when you’re with horses!  

Dolly: The Not-So-Gentle Giant 

muscle horse

When I first saw Dolly, I was surprised at how big she was.  Her ears were the size of forks; her feet were the size of dinner plates; her girth was larger than a truck tire.  Later I learned that she was a mule — specifically, a cross between a donkey and a Belgium draft horse — so of course she was big.  

Usually, my friends’ brother rode Dolly.  But for one lesson, I was assigned to Dolly.  It was memorable, to say the least.  

Now, riding Dolly was great. 

But tacking up was a different matter.  When I picked up Dolly’s feet to clean out her hooves, she readily raised her leg.  But she was only luring me into a false sense of security!  Dolly would wait 2 or 3 seconds, then she would lean her incredible weight onto that raised leg and slam that pillar of muscle back down.  

I was strong for my age, but I was no match for Dolly.  

Again and again, her feet slammed back to the ground.  Each time I made no progress.  It was probably a wonderful game to Dolly; but to me, it was unbelievably frustrating.  I was fairly horse-savvy at this point, so I felt like I should be able to handle this.  Yet I couldn’t.  

Once again, those dinner-plate hooves thundered back to earth.  But this time was different.  This time she was on my foot!  Sort of.  Her massive hoof had landed on the tip of my steel-toed riding boots.  I gulped and yanked my foot free.  Taking a moment’s break from the struggle, I silently thanked my parents for my steel-toed boots.  If it hadn’t been for that, my toes could have been broken.  

I gave up.  Feeling like a failure, I went to my friend’s brother and asked for help.  He kindly agreed.  As I watched him work, I was selfishly relieved to see he was only doing slightly better than I had.  

Our struggle finally ended when my instructor told me to hurry up and get out to the arena.  So I did.  

As you can see, Dolly was a less-than-gentle giant.  And when I tried to get her to do something she didn’t want to do, she was truly “stubborn as a mule”.    

Missy: The Ice Queen

girl and horse

Missy was a chestnut Quarter horse with a blaze and socks.  Unlike Dolly, I didn’t have any problems with Missy.  When I asked her to do something, she would do it.  Her responses were neither eager nor reluctant; they were almost mechanical. 

That was because she had been a lesson horse for many years, and her stoic calmness made her perfect for beginners.  But as a more experienced rider, I found it a little disappointing and boring.  (But maybe that’s just me wanting to have my cake and eat it too.)  

The only emotion I ever saw from Missy was when I turned her out to pasture one time.  Like I had been taught, I opened the gate, led her in, turned her around and closed the gate.  Next I released the lead from her halter.  Instantly, Missy spun around and bolted away!  I stood there in shock for a moment.  Then I realized that Missy was simply excited to get back to her friends.  Awww, how cute!  

I guess even ice queens have hearts.  

Lilly: The Fussy Princess

brown horse princess

Unfortunately, I don’t remember what breed Lilly was.  Whatever it was, Lilly acted like she had descended from the mounts of kings.  

Lilly disliked the vulgarity of the girth; she didn’t enjoy the exertion of jumping.  Furthermore, she had a delicate mouth.  And this is why I was often assigned to her.  

Let me explain.  Before I started riding, I was reading books about horses.  And one thing that I read about repeatedly was the poor horse with the hard mouth, the one who had his sensitive mouth yanked on until he just didn’t care anymore.  I vowed never to do this. 

So when I started riding, I developed a bad habit.  I held the reins with the lightest possible pressure.  Yes, I didn’t hurt anything this way, but my control wasn’t great, and sometimes the horse would jerk the reins out of my hands.  Much later in my lessons, I tried to break this habit.  I never could.  

Still, this worked to my advantage with Lilly.  We got along great!  If given some encouragement, she was a lovely jumper.  And best of all was our special connection; most beginners couldn’t ride her, but I could.  

And there you have it — the equine cast from my past.  So what about you, dear reader?  Have you ever ridden or owned horses?  What were their personalities like?  Let’s chat in the comments!  

So until next week: stay fuzzy, my friends!  

Top 10 Funniest Grumpy Cat Memes

You probably have heard of Grumpy Cat, and you probably already know that the Internet Icon passed away last week.  But did you know that Grumpy Cat was actually a girl?  And like me, you may not have known that her real name was Tardar Sauce. 

Tardar Sauce began her life in the house of her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, on April 4, 2012.  She was born with dwarfism and an underbite that gave her the unique, pernament frown.  Later in 2012, Tabatha’s brother posted a photo of Tardar Sauce on Reddit with the caption: “Meet grumpy cat”.  It exploded.  

People couldn’t get enough of Grumpy Cat’s frowning face, so she and her owner started making media appearances.  Over the course of 7 years, Grumpy Cat gathered a huge social media following, started her own line of merchandise, and even starred in a movie.  She made her owner millions.  (And, of course, inspired thousands of memes.)  

Unfortunately, all that ended last week.  Despite the best care, Grumpy Cat died of a urinary tract infection on Tuesday, May 14th.  She was only 7 years old. 

But her legacy lives on in the millions of smiles that her frown created.  Because of that, I can think of no better way to celebrate the life of the Meme Queen than to show you some of her best work.  

Let’s begin with the photo which started it all…

1. 

orig grumpy cat

Ah, Grumpy Cat.  How I will miss you perpetual pessimism.  

 

2. 

grumpy cat

How can something so cute be so evil?!  

 

3. 

grumpy cat grass

 

4. 

9-Best-Grumpy-Cat-Memes-5

Me to Grumpy Cat: “Turn that frown upside down!”  

Grumpy Cat: “Try that, and I’ll bite you.”

 

5. 

grumpy cat gas mask

 

6. 

grumpy cat 3

Finally!  Someone who understands me!  

 

7. 

Grumpy cat

 

8. 

grumpy cat santa fire

This is me after spending too many hours shopping for presents online.  

 

9. 

grumpy cat 4

I love how this meme almost gives you hope, and then snatches it away!  

 

10. 

grumpy heaven

So what did you think of the list?  Did you laugh at it?  Which meme was your favorite?  Share your opinion in the comments below!  

In conclusion, Grumpy Cat cannot be replaced.  But who will make us laugh in her absence?  Fortunately, there are other funny, feline, Internet stars out there.  One of my personal favorites is Curious Zelda. Curious Zelda is a black and white cat with huge eyes, which makes her look shocked all of the time.  Here’s a sample to show you why I think she’s so good.  

5attack

If you like what you see, consider checking out my post, “Curious Zelda Tweets That Are Comedy Gold”.  Enjoy!  

https://fuzzyfanaticblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/funny-curious-zelda-tweets/

So until next time: stay fuzzy, my friends!  

Why Is My Cat Biting Me? (Cause and Cure)

adorable-animal-bite-1202481

This topic typically splits people into 2 camps.  One side says that it’s no big deal, that it’s just “love bites”.  People on this side often put up with the pain instead of dealing with the problem.  

Meanwhile, the other side claims that biting cats are like little devils who hate people.  Humans on this side of the argument usually surrender their cats to shelters.  Tragically, it is not an exaggeration to say that a shelter cat who bites will probably be euthanized.  

But the truth lies in the middle of these 2 extremes.  

First, let us address the myth of “love bites”.  Bites hurt, and cats know that.  9 times out of 10, Fluffy bites to express her anger or fear.  A cat never bites when it is feeling happy, so there is no such thing as “love bites”.  

On the other hand, biting cats aren’t people-hating monsters.  They have a bad habit, (and a serious one at that) but they aren’t beyond redemption.  In fact, the solution can be shockingly easy once you have pinpointed the exact trigger.  

Fluffy’s trigger should fall into 1 of 4 categories.  (Note that each problem will have a corresponding solution of the same number.)

Causes

1. Lack of Exercise.  Cats were built to hunt and kill prey daily.  And if they can’t find a proper outlet for their instincts, they’ll take it out in improper ways — namely, on nearby hands and feet.  So playing with your cat will drain her excess energy and make her far less likely to act out.  

2. Improper Handling.  Improper handling usually happens in 1 of 3 ways: either incorrect petting, incorrect holding, or teasing.  

Cats dislike being petted like dogs.  The vigorous, heavy-handed stroking that dogs crave will drive a cat mad.  In addition, many cats don’t like full-body petting (although my Autumn enjoys it).  And whatever you do, don’t touch the tummy or the paws!  

Another common mistake cat owners make is holding cats like a babies.  I made this blunder myself.  Queen Autumn I generously tolerated my faux pas, but a lot of cats won’t.  Furthermore, it is a myth that holding the cat by the scruff is a good idea.  Doing so is very uncomfortable for the cat, and there’s even a strong likelihood of injuring your precious pet.  So don’t do it.  

Watch children carefully to ensure that they aren’t teasing the cat.  What kids might see as harmless fun, cats see as bullying.  It is only a matter of time before Fluffy retaliates.  Indeed, if this kind of behavior is left unchecked, it could turn a normal, sweet kitty into a feline delinquent who attacks all humans.  

3. Fear.  What is behind your poor kitty’s fear?  Well, one sad possibility is that it might be PTSD from past abuse.  A cat emerging from this kind of ugly past could easily have a fear of hands, because of what humans used to do to her.  

And then again, it is more likely to be territorial insecurities.  Cats are highly territorial.  If another animal invades their territory, they instantly go into combat mode.  This is why it can be difficult for multiple cats to live in one house. 

4. Physical or Mental Condition.  If none of the above reasons seem to hold true for your cat, then it is possible that she has a health issue.  For example, many older cats get arthritis, so petting can be painful; hence, the biting.  On the other hand, poor Fluffy might have a mental instability.  The chemicals in her brain might be so off balance that she is convinced biting is her only option to fend off the danger that lurks around every turn.  

Cures

1. Exercise.  Playing with cats isn’t as simple as it seems.  In fact, I’ve written a whole 3-part series on the topic in order to cover it from all angles.  Here’s the link to part 1, if you’re interested.  

https://fuzzyfanaticblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/cat-playtime-part-1-why-and-how-to-play/

But if you are strapped for time, here’s the gist of it: you should play with your cat every day for 20 minutes, and then feed her afterwards.  This mimics how cats in the wild hunt,  kill, and then eat their prey.  Naturally, Fluffy will love playing this way.  

One more note before we move on: the best method to get your cat engaged in playtime is to be engaged yourself.  If you just sit on the couch dragging some string from left to right, most cats won’t care.  So stand up.  Move the toy in random patterns, at random speeds.  Run around a little.  Play tag, or hide-and-seek.  Try things until you find what Fluffy likes.  

Doing this will improve your cat’s health, brighten her mood, and cure many bad habits (including biting).  

2. Proper Handling.  Petting a cat properly starts with slow, gentle strokes.  Some felines enjoy long body strokes; some like chin rubs; but it differs depending on the cat.  It’s all about being sensitive to what your cat wants.  And if you aren’t sure what Fluffy wants, start by rubbing your fingers from her nose to along the side of her face.  Most cats love this!  

The secret to holding a cat properly is supporting all 4 of a cat’s paws.  Most cats hate being held like a sack of potatoes, with their hind legs dangling disconcertingly in the air.  Try instead to hold her back paws with one hand and let her front paws rest on your forearm.  Alternatively, you could hook your cats front paws over your shoulder.  In this pose, one of your hands will be supporting her back paws and the other can pet her on the back.  

As you may have noticed, it’s difficult to describe in words.   So if you didn’t quite follow what I was saying, please check out this great WikiHow article.  The pictures show it perfectly.  

https://www.wikihow.com/Pick-Up-a-Cat

Finally, if a child is teasing the cat, it is your duty as the responsible adult to make them to stop.  Like I mentioned before, if you do not, the consequences could be severe.  

3. Confidence Building.  For the cat with a fear of hands, you will need to gently teach her that hands are harmless.  The goal is to replace her bad memories of hands with good ones.  Try feeding her and setting your hands flat on the floor nearby.  Slowly move them closer; if all is going well, try touching Fluffy softly.  Eventually you can graduate to feeding her out of your hand.  

Cats who clash with their feline housemates will need play to blunt those hunting instincts.  That’s step 1.  In step 2, you should make your house more cat-friendly.  Add cat scratching posts and cat trees to your home.  For step 3, try to create what cat expert Jackson Galaxy calls a “cat highway”.  The idea is to line up a system of shelves, cat trees, and other furniture so that your cat can cross a room without touching the floor.  Cats love being up high — it’s one of the reasons they always climb trees outdoors and get stuck in them.  You can indulge this habit (safely) and build your cat’s confidence at the same time by creating a cat highway.  

4. Vet.  If something is wrong with your cat physically or mentally, only a veterinarian should be trusted with prescribing the right treatments.  

And there we have it: the causes and the cures!  

If you own an aggressive cat or if you know someone who does, I hope this helps you.  But if this post was completely useless to you, then congratulations!  Hopefully you will never need to put this information into use.  

Now a word to my regular readers.  My blog is usually all about positivity, and you might have been surprised by this depressing post.  The reason is that I’ve been thinking and learning a lot about this topic lately, so I wanted to share what I’d found.  But I promise that next week we’ll get back to your regularly-scheduled smiles.  

So until then: stay fuzzy, my friends!