May 29, 2014

Choco the Cat Shows How to Stay Hydrated

Choco is an adult rescue. We got her when she was about three years old. But this behaviour makes me suspect that she had special forces survival training in her past. That, and her wicked right hook, when she doesn't like my moustache wiggling at her.

Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM

December 25, 2013

'My Girls' Play with Xmas Stocking Stuffers

Choco the Cat got a laser toy in her stocking, while Yumi got a whirly thingy : -).

Yes, Midori got some presents, too, calcium blocks for her tank, but she pretty much sleeps all day on top of a hot-water bottle in a basket in the winter.

Posted by Paul at 11:30 AM

May 31, 2013

Turtle Exhausted After Laying Clutch of Eggs

Midori, our red-eared slider, has been laying eggs off and on over the last month. Usually it's one or two at a time, but the other evening we found her with half a dozen on the carpet and a few in her tank.


Folks are bound to have questions about this so let me attempt to anticipate a few:

  • Are turtles good pets? No, not really. They are a lot of work and are a long-term commitment. We've had Midori for over 15 years now, and she could live another 30 years. They are also potential carriers of salmonella. Dori is probably clear, but we wash our hands after touching her, or changing the water in her tank (which we do at least once, and sometimes two or three times a day, depending on how much she eats and poops.) Like I said, a lot of work. . .
  • Aren't red-eared sliders invasive in BC? Yep, they are. When we moved to BC from Japan (which at that time, and perhaps to this day, has no pet turtle regulations), we had to get an import permit from the federal government, and a possession permit from the BC government. We are not allowed to breed her, or set her free in the wild. Yes, I know that sounds crazy as hundreds of unwanted pet sliders have been released all over the lower mainland over the years.
  • Why is she laying eggs if she has no mate? When she reached sexual maturity, she began producing eggs in numbers varying from a dozen to three or four dozen every year. They're just not fertilized.
  • Why is she dropping her eggs willy-nilly wherever she happens to be? We've tried to provide more "natural" spots for her, like boxes of dirt, or sand, but she's never used them.
  • More on keeping reptiles as pets here.

All that said, we got Midori when she was so small that she appeared to almost imprint on us to some degree, and she's very cuddly for a turtle. After that last batch of eggs, she fell asleep in her tank for a day. When she came out, she immediately crawled over to us, wanting "uppie." She fell asleep wrapped in a towel on Yumi's lap yesterday evening, and then we put her in a basket with a warming gel pack. She slept for 14 hours straight, and didn't appear until almost lunchtime today.

Posted by Paul at 11:13 AM

May 07, 2013

Dog Scares Cat, Cat’s Leash Breaks, Yikes!

Whew! Total cat-walking freakout this morning. Our 99.9% indoor cat Choco wanted to graze on the grass, so I put her in the harness and out we went. She then decided she wanted to explore and headed up the walkway in our townhouse complex.

As we got to the end of the row, a door opened and a dog bounded out. I don't think it even saw the cat, but of course Choco tore off back toward our door - - and the snap on the leash broke. I had visions of her disappearing into the ravine behind our place and lost forever as I galumphed after her. But she stopped at our door, then went to ground under a bush.

I slowed and called her, and she immediately came into my arms and a moment later was safe inside. Good kitty!

Posted by Paul at 09:15 AM

March 29, 2013

Mourning a Tree

The cherry tree that reached up beside our garage to grace our 2nd-story balcony, and that was the subject of many photo shoots posted to this blog, is gone.

The roots of the 25-year-old-plus beauty were causing problems with foundations and plumbing in our townhouse complex.


Choco le chat, enjoying that lovely tree several years ago. . .

Here's a post back from 2010 in its memory.

Wish they would have at least let it blossom with us one more time. . .  Just another week or two, but we must force nature into our work cycles.

I knew it was coming, and was tough when the chainsaws and mega-chipper fired up. . . But later I felt pretty misty.

Posted by Paul at 10:28 PM

March 18, 2013

Cat Love

Late in the afternoon, Choco the cat plants herself on the stairs to the front door and waits for Yumi to come home from work.

Today, Choco expanded her mommy-love repertoire.

She'd been lazing in the sun on her cat tower in an upstairs bedroom, and to take advantage of those rare rays, I'd moved up from my basement office to the living room, and was studying some research in relation to a job for a client. Suddenly I heard her bouncing down the stairs, eagerly meowking with every bound. She reached the bottom of two flights just in time to hear the key go in the lock.

I guess she saw Yumi coming. . .

I suspect many folks would think that's pretty impressive, for a cat.

But I've been blessed to experience deep cat love before. In my early teens I had major back surgery. I had to leave my hometown and travel to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, and was away from home for nearly two months. When I returned, it was to a skin-and-bones cat that had almost pined away for me while I was gone.

It was amazing how the cat revived when I returned. I was in a cast from hips to armpits and he sat on me, slept on me, left me just long enough to eat and take care of his business. . . He was my best buddy.

Give and you shall receive. There's lots of love to go around, particularly when accompanied by respect and understanding.

Posted by Paul at 09:58 PM

March 08, 2013

Hello Kitty? What You Got Kitty? You Go Kitty!

Yesterday I was sitting in the living room watching TV when the cat came up the stairs from the basement with something dangling from her mouth. My first thought was she had a humungo hairball and that she had come to me because she was choking, but I then realized it was a mouse. Being the strong, brave, 200+ pounder that I am, I yelled: "Honey, Choco's got a mouse. Help!"

No, silly, I wasn't afraid of the mouse -- I knew Yumi would want to rescue it, and for that we needed a net or gloves, because I wasn't going to grab a potentially diseased rodent with my bare hands.

Yumi came running with an aquarium net, and there ensued a game of "get the cat to drop the mouse, the mouse plays dead for 1.5 seconds and then takes off, Choco recaptures the mouse. . ."

On the third attempt we successfully separated mouse from cat while directing mouse into net. Whew!

We opened the front door, placed the net on the walk, and disentangled the mouse. It lay there unmoving.

"Oh, it's dead," cried Yumi.

"Give it another second or two," quoth I.

Sure enough, given another moment unhanded, the dead mouse miraculously revived and sprinted off into the bushes.

Good Karma is coming our way, eh?

The cat was peeved that we'd freed its new playmate, and after fruitlessly searching the living room, repaired downstairs to stand watch on the storage space beneath the stairs where she'd nabbed the invader.

I posted a synopsis of the above on Facebook, and several people assured me that the cat was just fixated on the site of her conquest, and her behaviour didn't indicate the presence of more mice.

We went to sleep last night with the cat still under the stairs.

We woke up this morning with the cat snoozing guard in front of the half-open door to the storage beneath the stairs.

Then tonight Choco came up the stairs with another catch. The net had been misplaced, but eventually another game of "drop the mouse, cat recaptures mouse, etc." resulted in another rodent being freed into the great outdoors. We lavishly praised the cat, for fear she'd stop bringing us any remaining mice alive, and would simply kill anything she found in private . . .

Which is what cats do, but she's a well-fed, well-loved, well-exercised and played-with indoor cat, so setting the mice free outdoors contributes to the natural, wild, foodchain, eh?

I've been surprized that she's been "gentle" enough with her recent catches to bring them to us alive. So is she honouring her "parents"? Or is she bringing us live mice to train her "kids"? : -)

Yumi found some dry Halloween gourds in the storage under the staird with gnaw marks, and we'll have to check what else may have attracted mice down there. We keep our camping kits there in plastic containers, but perhaps one has cracked open. There's also the earthquake kit right beside the back door in a large backpack. Will have to check if that's been breached, too. . .

But thanks, kitty!

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

January 23, 2013

SAD Cat?

Are cats susceptible to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)? As the relentless rain drags on, she's taken to sitting on a blankie on my desk right under the lamp as I work. Yeah, I know, she loves me and wants to be with me. OK, the lamp is warm even though it's a CFL. All of the above?


Posted by Paul at 02:45 PM

January 13, 2013

Kitty Drops a ‘Dangler,’ Daddy Steps on It

Tonight the cat left what I call a "dangler" on the mat in the basement bathroom where her litter is. She is the cleanest cat I've ever had, and rarely does this, but a few times a year I guess some poop momentarily clings to her furry behind, or as she turns to cover her production, an unexpected latecomer slips out. 

And of course she can't pick it up and toss it in the litter, eh? All she can do is give the errant turd a sniff and slink away.

Usually it's no big deal. I find a small, dry, nugget on the floor and dispose of it. But tonight I didn't see it, and it was still fresh, and I stepped on it.


The ensuing sock, mat, and litter-box cleanup was animated, and when I went upstairs when I was done, the cat was feigning sleep. (At this time of day she's usually chomping at the bit to run, and chase, and play.)

I patted her on the head and said, "It's OK, accidents happen."

She looked up with such a mortified expression that I nearly laughed, for fear of melting. Methinks these beasts are more aware than we often give them credit for.

Posted by Paul at 08:22 PM

December 07, 2012

Cat Moves In After Turtle Vacates Sun Lamp

I just went upstairs from my basement office to check on the "the kids." And who did I find under the sun lamp? Choco looks toasty, while Dori is heading back to her tank. I suspect Dori left on her own after sunning for several hours, and Choco took advantage of the situation. Earlier in the day, Choco had been sleeping on a register : -).


Posted by Paul at 04:04 PM

July 24, 2012

I Love My Wife, and My Cat, and Always Think of Their Welfare…

Ah, just had one of those lovely "couples'" moments.

Went upstairs from my basement office, noticed it was starting to get dark and time to close the blinds, and strangely the balcony door was unlocked.

So I locked the door and began methodically closing blinds. It was only when I got to the last window that I glanced out to see my wife and the cat, both staring at me... How funny!

Or, not.


Posted by Paul at 08:46 PM

March 05, 2012

Choco the Cat Enjoys Dori the Turtle’s Sun Lamp

Well, who should I find sneaking a few rays under the reptile lamp? Not a reptile, that's for sure!


Ah, nothing like some warmth and brightness!


Yeah, yeah, I know about tanning beds! Just a few more minutes. . .

Posted by Paul at 02:55 PM

January 23, 2012

The Three Lovely Ladies in my Life

The wife, the turtle, and the cat snuggle up together while watching TV.


What had them all so engrossed? Cesar Millan's dog show on TV : -)

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

December 07, 2011

Japan Trip—Day 8 of Photos—Aomori

More photos from around Yumi's hometown in Aomori prefecture in northern Japan, taken in late October.


Yumi with Eito, the family pup


Eito on an access road out in the rice fields


Early morning sun breaks over a forest edging the fields




Colors get richer as the morning progresses



Meito, the goat


Reaching out for a nose scratch


Papi the cat and I, love at first sight : -)

OK, a big, warm lap.

Something that strikes me about these animals is how they all instantly accepted me.

Yumi went to Japan earlier and spent a week with her folks and relatives before I followed, so she got to know these animals, all of them new additions since our last visit. Now, I know many animals are good judges of character, of whether or not someone is comfortable with them, or is a threat to them, or to their "family." But they are also fast judges of relationships. They're Yumi's parent's pets, but obviously they quickly grasped Yumi's place in the hierarchy, and then when I came along, they immediately understood my relationship to Yumi.

So there was no fear, no anxiety, no protectiveness.

Now I'm a nice guy, but I suspect I'd have gotten a very different reception if I'd walked into the yard the first time all alone.

Posted by Paul at 08:47 PM

November 14, 2011

Feline Editorial Assistant

Choco wandered into my office meowing plaintively while I was
editing another Language Lanterns Ukrainian - English translation today.


Hello? Can't hear me? How about I jump on the desk?
I need some attention and affection, eh?


Hah! Can't ignore me now!


A folded towel - how nice of you. I'll catch a few winks while
I supervise from over here.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

August 06, 2011

Smart Little Bunny

We've caught glimpses of this rabbit several times over the last months in our townhouse complex. I'm assuming it's the same one as it's always around the same area. I find it interesting how it seems to survive right next door to an urban ravine, while outdoor cats disappear left and right.


Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

July 10, 2011

Saving Dragonfly from ‘Indoor’ Cat

Yes, Choco the cat is supposed to be a completely indoor cat. That's to protect her from the coyotes in the ravine just outside our back gate, and to protect birds from her natural instincts, well-fed as she may be. Cats are cats, and love to chase. . . But we do let her out on the balcony, and in an unsupervised moment today, she managed to snag a lovely dragonfly.

Yumi soon rescued the dragonfly, which wasn't too worse for wear. In the photo below, one wing appear off kilter, but after the shock wore off, it straightened out, and the lovely little darling buzzed off into the ether. Fly, fly my dragonfly - and catch, and eat, as many mosquitos as you can : -).



Posted by Paul at 08:56 PM

June 27, 2011

OK, 1 More ‘Missing Pet’ Added to this Blog

I'm adding "missing pets" to this blog. I used to have entries for them on my old website that I took down years ago, and am finally transferring those pages here.

Toto the Cat in Aomori Prefecture, Japan.

This entry on my old website was posted around 1995-97???

"Here I am with a *verrrry* relaxed Toto, in Yumi's parents' place. Toto and I were the greatest of pals, though we didn't meet that often. He passed away awhile back, and I still miss him..."


2011 comments: Toto was the most relaxed, laid back cat I ever met, and I've known lots of cats! An unfixed male, he was incredibly cuddly. Yumi and I would visit her parents in Aomori, and we'd hear Toto caterwauling in the hood. . . He'd be putting on a huge display of bunched up muscles and throaty wails. Then Yumi would call out in Japanese, "Toto! Come here!" and just like that he'd be trotting over and rolling over to expose his tummy for a rub, all the while pumping out happy "neowks". . .

My kind of guy - a warrior with a soft side : - )

Yumi and I speak of Toto still, ten or more years after he died. We have shared memories that we will cherish forever.

Posted by Paul at 09:05 PM

Filling in Some Missing Pets

I realized that several pets that had huge impacts on my life are missing from this blog. I had stories and photos about some of them on my ancient static website that I took down years ago, and I'll gradually fill in some of their stories here on this blog.

One that I thought I'd talk about today is Ergie, the one and only dog I've had in my life. Ergie came to mind this evening because I have a friend with a lovely bowser who has got an incurable disease, and she's struggling with the decision of further intervention vs putting her beloved dog down. That is so tough, and it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Sorry, here's the page about Ergie from my ancient website:


Paul and Ergie at our cabin at Wakaw Lake in 1992.


Ergie was a present from my sister. I'll always remember the day Raissa brought Ergie home. Ergie shivered in the palm of my hand, looked up into my eyes -- and barfed :-)

After that initial trauma, as Ergie grew, she and I had wonderful times together. I fondly recall the warm, trusting pressure of her body wrapped over my shoulders as we'd drive in my car with her nose pointed out the open window.

When I moved to Japan in 1985, my Dad and his wife adopted Ergie and she stole their hearts.

Ergie and I used to "talk" long distance -- she'd always recognize my voice. But as the years went by, she learned that when I'd arrive for visits, but lived out of suitcases, that meant I was only visiting....

She always had a soft spot for me, but dogs are loyal -- and need loyalty in return -- so eventually she relegated me to the second string in her affections, and rightfully so.

Ergie lived a long and pampered life, but eventually age, arthritis, and cataracts took her to the point that Dad was forced to make the painful decision to put her down. When he called me in Tokyo I commiserated with him and supported the move. Then I hung up the phone, took a deep, manly breath, and... my wife Yumi was busy feeding me tissues for a good while.

Thanks, Dad and Maura, for giving Ergie a caring, happy life.

Ergie? I'll always love ya, pup. 

Posted by Paul at 08:34 PM

June 19, 2011

Taking Turtle to Vet

Our red-eared slider Midori has not been her usual bouncy self this cold, wet spring. Ever since we brought her out of hibernation she's been listless and slow, and not even very interested in food. About a week ago my wife noticed that Midori's legs looked swollen. Sure enough, they did appear puffed up. What to do? This was our first "medical issue" with Midori in 15 years, from Toonie-sized baby to her present soup-bowl size.

We searched for veterinarians with "exotics" and/or reptile experience in the lower mainland of BC, and one promising name that came up was Dr. Hugh Upjohn at the Eagle Ridge Animal & Bird Hospital. I gave them a ring, and got an appointment for 'Dori.

It's a different experience taking a turtle to the vet. I've taken cats and dogs to the vet, but when you show up with a silent,  loaf-sized cardboard box, it piques the interest of other folks in the waiting room.

"What have you got in there?"

"Oh, just a baby komodo dragon, we're trying to get a wedding ring back for someone who got a little too cuddly."

Well, no, I didn't really say that. I said I had a turtle who'd lost her bounce, and that was strange enough.

So you know how you're rather nervous about taking your kid to a new doctor? Same feeling, eh? As I sat in the waiting room, I observed the Eagle Ridge staff, and was reassured by their cheerful, competent demeanour.

And after 'Dori and I were ushered into an examining room, and Dr. Upjohn walked in, I immediately felt comfortable. He obviously knew what he was doing.

Now, examining a turtle is no easy task, because, you know, they "go turtle."

"You want to see my legs, hah! Legs be gone!"

It took the two of us tugging on both ends together to allow Dr. Upjohn to pull her legs out one at a time and examine them. And 'Dori was not a happy patient. In fact, I was surprized at how aggressive she became, hissing and snapping. From the first day we got her, she's always been handled and cuddled, and has always sought human warmth and attention. But she did NOT want to be examined. She'd rarely, if ever, hissed or snapped at home, but she was outside her usual element and very defensive.

Dr. Upjohn took it all in stride. 'Dori was calcium deficient, but her muscles were still strong, so she wasn't in too much trouble. We needed to give her more heat, more broad-spectrum UV light - ideally outside right in the sun, and she needed a diet change.

No more bacon cheddar cheeseburgers (kidding), apparently as pond turtles age, their diets naturally turn more herbivorous, so turtle pellets are not sufficient - 'Dori needs more greens, and other dark-coloured veggies.

She also needed a booster shot of calcium/vitamins, and that was also a sight to see. Dr. Upjohn called in an assistant, and they got 'Dori to bite down on a mini-spatula, the assistant wrapped a towel around 'Dori's head, and then the needle went into a front leg. Like I said before, not a happy turtle : - ).

We were sent home with a vial of liquid calcium supplement and a needleless syringe to administer it orally. I haven't found that too difficult. I load up the syringe with the proper dose and hold it with one hand, and I dangle a shrimp tail in front of 'Dori with the other. As soon the the mouth gapes in anticipation -- down the hatch, and the shrimp tail follows as a reward.

'Dori has already perked up. We're giving her several hours under the broad-spectrum UV lamp every day, and her legs are starting to look better.

Thanks, Dr. Upjohn.

And lots more on the pets in our lives, from 'Dori and Choco, to past pets over the years. Loved and fondly remember them all.. Just click on the "pets" category in the left sidebar..

Posted by Paul at 08:58 PM

June 11, 2011

Sharing Sunlight: A Recipe for World Peace

My recipe for world peace: cross-cultural, even cross-species sharing of a patch of sunlight. Midori the turtle and Choco the cat show how it's done:


We found them like this near the sliding doors to the balcony
when we got home from a volunteer event today.

Posted by Paul at 09:18 PM

February 25, 2011

There’s No Shame in Reading Manuals

I was taking a few shots of cat 'n wife cuddling in my office this evening, when I realized that I really needed to re-read my Nikon D300 manual. That's no slight to Nikon, or to technical writers. These modern semi-pro DSLRs are so powerful and feature-laden that there's no way one can learn to fully utilize all their features on one's own, or with a single skim of the manual. Or at least not unless you're a pro who uses all those features regularly day in and day out. I use my D300 a lot, but there's still the odd option or setting that I forget about.


Posted by Paul at 09:11 PM

October 12, 2010

Dog Signs Go Up for Byrne Creek

Spawning salmon are expected back in SE Burnaby's Byrne Creek any day now, so Byrne Creek Streamkeepers posted several posters along the most-walked portion of the creek trail today to remind dogs to keep their owners out of the creek :-).

Salmon usually start arriving in the creek in mid-October, and spawners can show up as late as mid-December. They lay their eggs in pits they dig in the gravel, and cover them, and these redds need to remain undisturbed until April-May to ensure the eggs hatch and eventually swim free as fry.

As I was putting the posters up today, two joggers with dogs stopped to chat about the fish, with one whooping a "woo-hoo, the salmon are coming back!" It's great to get that kind of positive feedback from the community.




Credits: "Scream" and "Dog Paw" are by my wife, Yumi Kosaka, while the "Band-Aid" fish are by Maho Hayashi.

Posted by Paul at 10:02 AM

September 17, 2010

When I Grow Up I’ll Wear Shoes Like Mommy’s

Choco the cat has recently taken to playing with Yumi's slippers. This photo was not faked or posed in any way, it's all Choco's doing.


Posted by Paul at 10:29 AM

July 30, 2010

Midori the Turtle Falls Strangely Asleep

Midori enjoyed the sun streaming through the windows today, basking for hours. As the rays gradually diminished, she fell asleep in this odd position on the wooden stairs that surround her tank. My wife built the stairs so Midori could get in and out of the water as she pleases.


Oooo! Damn I woke up with a crick in my neck!

OK, all fun aside, this is an excellent example of why not to release pet turtles into the wild, or even to keep them as pets. Aside from the invasive species problem, as you can see, Midori is so acclimatized to human presence that she zonks out in a totally vulnerable manner which no healthy wild turtle would ever be lulled into. . .

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

July 20, 2010

Choco the Cat Loves Her (Human) Mom

Our SPCA rescue cat, Choco, gets really upset if Yumi heads out somewhere in the evening after coming home from work. She's like a little puppy, moping all day long after Yumi leaves (I do my editing work from home). As the afternoon rolls by, she emerges from one of her sleeping havens and sits near the steps leading to the front door in expectation of greeting Yumi.

So when Yumi heads out again in the same day to an event, or an exercise class in the evening, Choco feels crushed. When Yumi came home tonight from a class with her pack on her back, and we began chatting about how our day went as she skimmed one of the local papers while sitting on the floor, Choco took advantage of Yumi's low pose to do a bit of "you ain't leaving me again" domination :-).


Choco has expressed her frustration at me leaving the house as well: here and again here.

Posted by Paul at 08:57 PM

October 25, 2009

Our Cat, the Behavioral Psychologist

When did Choco the cat train me to hold her dish six inches above the floor so she wouldn't have to bend over for food heated for precisely four seconds in the microwave?

Four seconds is just enough to impart  some warmth to, and slightly re-liquefy, a teaspoon of soft cat food that's been stored in a plastic container in the fridge. Choco loves the juice, and the cold food needs a blast to get the congealed bits runny again. More time makes it too hot, less is not enough to evoke that teasing aroma.

Choco has a bowl of hard cat food that she dips into as she pleases. She's moderate in her appetites, and never overindulges, so it remains out on the kitchen floor. She does love soft food, though, and signals it's time by posing daintily between the kitchen and the living room with an expectant look on her face.

She'll usually start on her soft food on her own, but lately she often doesn't finish it - until someone picks up the dish and holds it for her at seated-chin level. Over the carpet in the living room is nice, too, as that kitchen linoleum floor gets rather chilly this time of year.

It struck me this morning how smoothly this progression had developed over. . . how long? The only reinforcement I get is the tickly feel of her whiskers against my hand as I hold the dish, and an occasional appreciative twining around my legs when she's done. Am I such an easy mark?

Posted by Paul at 11:33 AM

September 04, 2009

Watching Cat’s Brain Work

Like many of us, especially those who have pets, I'm a sucker for anthropomorphizing, or attributing human characteristics to animals. Occasionally you feel a tingle of excitement at watching an animal's mind work, and you think you understand what's happening. On the one hand these flashes of empathy, that feeling of seeing something through another animal's eyes, provide a sense of wonder and mutual understanding, but on the other hand they may often be projections that stem from our species' never-satiated desire to consider ourselves the all-understanding pinnacle of development on Mother Nature's totem pole. Yet it's still a thrill when it happens.

Heck, sometimes it's a thrill when it happens between humans, but I digress.

I could swear I followed Choco the cat's train of thought for several seconds the other day, and it was fascinating to watch because she exhibited a form of reasoning that we can relate to. My wife and I were sitting in the living room watching TV and Choco was curled up on the carpet. Suddenly there was a bang upstairs as the wind blew a door shut.

Naturally Choco jumped, but what followed was more interesting. She looked at my wife, she looked at me. . . and then her eyes widened, her ears flattened, and her body assumed the classic Halloween cat "fight or flight" pose, muscles tensed and back arched. To my mind it was clear that she'd counted heads and reached the conclusion that if we were both with her, the noise must be an intruder.

Yeah, yeah, cats are said to have the intellectual capability of a two or three-year-old human, so what's so amazing about this? I dunno. It just felt cool to get into Choco's mind, and empathize with that primeval, horror-movie reaction of "if we're all here, what was that?!"

Posted by Paul at 10:45 AM

January 10, 2009

Testing Photo Posting With ScribeFire

Let's try posting a photo with ScribeFire. I'm having some trouble doing this....

OK, that finally seemed to work after I configured the FTP settings to my blog...

Except I don't see any way to add a border to the photo without going into editing the tag manually...

ScribeFire also seems to be doing something strange with paragraphs -- rather than using "p" tags it's using double "br" tags...

Posted by Paul at 10:19 PM

June 18, 2008

Sleeping on the Job

No, not me, Choco the cat. But with her relaxed in my arms, there's not much I can do.

She's taken to doing this several times a week recently. She'll be sleeping in the living room upstairs, and I'll be working in my basement office, when I hear the jingle of her collar and a plaintive, lonely meow.

She ambles into my room with a just-woke-up slinky slowness. I pick her up, and that's it for work for 15 or 20 minutes, or as long as I can hold her until my arms start to ache. Nothing to do but close my eyes too, and try to nap sitting up...


Posted by Paul at 02:07 PM

January 08, 2008

Cat Defends Briefcase Against Further Absences

OK, I know this post echoes another on a similar topic from awhile back, but Choco the cat is at it again. Now she's shifted from luggage to my every day "goin' to a meeting" bag -- in both cases she seems to have linked luggage or the shoulder bag to impending absences.


Assuming that I am not anthropomorphizing, and that she really loves me and doesn't want me to leave her -- ever -- this is really sweet. On the other hand, she likes to sleep on all sorts of stuff... and maybe my bag was just never in this enticing position before...

Posted by Paul at 09:39 PM

November 23, 2007

Cat Defends Luggage Against Further Absences

It's been a long time since I posted a pet photo, so here goes. I have been on the road a lot over the last couple of months, and when I got home today and opened up my suit bag, Choco the cat planted herself on it with a baleful look. I guess she wasn't sure if I was coming or going, but she was making her point either way :-).


Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

October 24, 2007

Aomori Pets

It was great to hang out with the pets at Yumi's home. Mukkun the dog, who is pushing 15 years, revived remarkably and was raring to go for walks, while Cat C -- yes, the other two are called A and B -- was a cuddly furball.




Posted by Paul at 08:35 PM

August 11, 2007

Cat Naps With Turtle

Choco the cat and Dori the turtle both cuddled up on Yumi's lap for a snooze this evening.


Posted by Paul at 07:37 PM

June 28, 2007

Choco's Hobbit Paws

Here's a shot of Choco's hairy feet. Our cat has amazing tufts between her toes.


Posted by Paul at 08:43 PM

April 17, 2007

Choco, Dori Enjoy Spring Day

On a beautiful spring day, our cat Choco enjoyed the cherry tree blossoming over our deck, and Dori our turtle perked up as well. Mom really enjoyed Choco when Yumi and I would go camping and leave the cat at her place. We got Choco a couple of years ago as an adult from the SPCA, and she took awhile to settle in and warm up. Mom's lap was the first Choco curled up and slept in, and Mom was always proud of that.





Posted by Paul at 07:04 PM

March 29, 2007

Cat Happy With De-Hibernated Turtle

We brought Midori, our red-eared slider, out of her hibernation tank the other day, and Choco the cat was happy to have her buddy back. Though Choco tries to play, they don't interact much, but I think Choco just likes having Midori around.


Posted by Paul at 07:49 PM

February 16, 2007

Mukkun Going Blind

Yumi talked with her Dad on the phone the other day, and one of the bits of news from northern Japan that we were loath to hear was that Mukkun, the family dog, is gradually going blind.

Mukkun joined the family around the time that Yumi and I got married.

That's coming up 14 years this spring, so Mukkun must be heading toward 15. He's always been an outdoor dog, and winters in Aomori can be harsh. I'm happy he's done as well as he has. We haven't been able to make it back for a visit for nearly three years now, though, and I'd sure like to give the pup another hug and enjoy a walk along the forests and rice fields.

Hang in there, boy!

Mukkun hugging Yumi the year we moved to Canada.

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas From Choco the Cat

There's nothing like opening presents, and exploring piles of crumpled wrapping paper, to make a cat happy. I love how the flash turned Choco's eyes the same color as the paper she's playing under.


Merry Christmas from all of us!

Posted by Paul at 12:35 PM

May 19, 2006

Turtle Scarfs Cat's Food

Midori, our red-eared slider, got up to some shenanigans tonight, stealing Choco the cat's food. I'd baked a small pink salmon for supper, and had offered Choco some as a treat. Choco is not much of a people-food cat, and has never begged at the table, but she did appreciate a bit of fish. I gave her seconds, but she left them in her bowl.

Awhile later I went down to the garage to organize some furniture that we're storing. Choco decided to accompany me, and I enjoyed watching her explore the new garage configuration. It's always fun watching cats check out changed surroundings as they poke and prod, eye distances, try new jumps, and twine themselves around obstacles. I could hear 'Dori moving around on the floor above us, but didn't give it much thought as she's been pretty antsy and mobile lately as her egg-laying season approaches.

Choco and I spent some time sitting in the car, as we're trying to get her more accustomed to driving without freaking out. She was initially nervous, but eventually checked out all the nooks and crannies before stretching out on the back seat. Satisfied that she'd done some positive acclimatizing, I gathered her up and we went back upstairs.

As we entered the kitchen, I noticed that the salmon in Choco's dish had been disturbed. Looking around, I saw bits of fish strewn about the floor. Suddenly 'Dori came motoring into the kitchen. I hadn't heard her charging across the living-room carpet, but her claws clashed on the kitchen lino as she flailed toward me with a chunk of salmon stuck to her chin.

Poor turtle! The fish had driven her to distraction, but being a water turtle, she'd been having a heck of a time swallowing it on dry land. We'd had her on a turtle-food only diet for some time, because she tends to get a bit crazy on fresh food.

Taking pitty on her, I picked her up with one hand and gathered up some of the shredded salmon with the other. Taking her back to her tank, I carefully fed her chunks of fish as she gobbled them down in a frenzy.

Choco and I have retreated to my basement office as 'Dori pounds the floor above. I fear we have awoken the beast...

Posted by Paul at 07:25 PM

April 28, 2006

Cat, Servant Enjoy Cherry Blossoms

Choco the cat is an indoor feline, but she has grown to love poking her nose outside to observe the greater world. We adopted her last August from the SPCA, and initially she had little interest in the outdoors, preferring to explore and get accustomed to the security of her new home. We wanted to keep her indoors anyway, away from the beasts higher (and lower) on the food chain here near our relatively wild urban ravine...

She has developed a taste for being held in one's arms in the doorway, and will occasionally hang around the front door to indicate she'd like a peek outside.

We shared a few moments in the doorway late tonight, gazing at the fullness of the cherry blossoms on the tree across the path, lightly lit against the black, wet sky. Her body felt soft and heavy as she balanced alertly in my arms, her eyes darting about and nose twitching, occasionally glancing upward into my face as if to check that I was enjoying the air as much as she was.

I nuzzled her, and she ran her nose along mine in return.

Thanks for sharing, Choco.

Posted by Paul at 10:29 PM

December 23, 2005

Turtle Hibernates, Distressing Cat

We put our red-eared slider turtle Midori into isolation, er, hibernation, for the winter the other day, and Choco the cat went into mourning.

Choco is relatively new to the family, as we adopted her from the SPCA in August, while Dori has been with us for at least eight years. Their relationship began with turtle dominance, and gradually developed into cat attempts at play. Needless to say, this doesn't work very well, however Dori held her own with occasional adult intervention.

Dori was getting increasingly sluggish as the days shortened and the temperature dropped, so we put her into a deep tank that we placed in the tub in the spare upstairs bathroom to sleep for a couple of months.

Well... the next morning Choco went weird. She sniffed Dori's sleeping basket in the living room. No Dori. She went to the corner where Dori's tank and steps usually are in the living room. No tank, no steps. To our amazement, rather than relishing her sole presence as, uh, top dog, Choco cried.


We let it go for a day, but Choco seemed genuinely distressed, so we finally brought her into the dark bathroom, and let her view Dori. Choco was amazed. She edged out onto the tank cover, she sniffed the water, she hunched down and observed the semi-somnolent Dori, and was rewarded with some sluggish movement.

We gathered Choco up, shut the door, and the meowker has been fine since.

So what do we know? What does Choco know?

What's going on in those little brains?

Posted by Paul at 11:23 PM

December 22, 2005

Cat Wearing a Lampshade Sitting On a Turtle

I took this photo a couple of months ago, and while I was taking my three-week MA residency at Royal Roads University I posted it on my personal page there. One of the profs came up with the title. I finally remembered to post it here.


That's Choco in her coned state while a wound near her eye was healing, sitting on top of Midori, our turtle. Choco has been cone-free for over a month, and now includes Midori in her morning wakeup routine. First Choco gets us up with her meowing and roaming over our bed, and once we're downstairs, she starts poking at the basket that 'Dori likes to sleep in on top of a hot water bottle. Choco can't sit still until she has the entire family awake :-).

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

October 02, 2005

Coning Deflates Exuberant Cat

We coned Choco the Cat today, and our formerly bouncy feline instantly turned into a picture of limp, listless depression.

The "play with me!" kitty of yesterday was transformed into a tentative, teetering, rubbery wreck. From the minute the cone went on, she assumed an air of suffering and persecution.

It's all for her own good, of course. She'd scratched herself below her right eye, opening up a small wound that she wouldn't leave alone. After close to a week of applying salves and admonishing her not to scratch herself (good luck), we finally took her to the vet today.

The verdict? A likely infection, and with the wound being so close to her eye, a couple of shots, 10 days worth of antibiotic doses, and a cone to keep her from disturbing the area. For $83. Ouch. So that with luck she won't need surgery...

So will she *really* mope for the 10 days she must wear the cone?

Will she morosely cuddle, as she's been doing for the last few hours, instead of demanding to play?

Aside from commiserating with the poor meowker, I'm curious to see how this will play out.

Posted by Paul at 07:00 PM

August 17, 2005

Choco the Cat Photo Barrage

I promise I won't keep this up unless I get some particularly cute shots, but I must post a few more photos of Choco as she gets adjusted to her new life after we adopted her from the SPCA a few days ago.


Having a snooze in the living room.


Eyeballing Midori the turtle as she crawls out of her tank. The two have attained a wary truce. Choco is very curious about Midori, but still cautious, while Midori is aware of the cat and has tried to check her out, but can't keep up as Choco backpedals :-).


Sitting side by side, feeling each other out. Midori has her back legs tucked in because Choco just sniffed her butt...


Finding a new place to sleep to keep Yumi company while she's working.

Posted by Paul at 05:50 PM

August 12, 2005

Welcoming New Family Member - Choco the Cat

We adopted a 2 to 3-year-old female cat from the Burnaby SPCA this afternoon. Cute black and white domestic medium hair. We've named her Choco.

Aside from peeing in her transport box in the car, thereby getting covered in urine and mandating a bath as her first event in her new home, poor thing, (amazingly she didn't claw us) she's doing very well. Very sociable and steadily exploring more of the house. It will take awhile to teach her that our turtle Midori is not prey or a toy, though!

She's shedding like crazy from the stress, but we hope that'll clear up as she gets more relaxed.


Here's Choco cuddling with me in my office on her first day home.


Choco meeting Midori the turtle.

Posted by Paul at 09:00 PM

July 23, 2005

Taming Kittens at the Farm

Yumi and I visited my Uncle Bohdan and Aunt Nadie at their farm northeast of Melfort, Saskatchewan. To our delight they had a mother cat with three kittens. The kittens were initially a bit skittish, but as you can see, they quickly became accustomed to us.


Posted by Paul at 04:10 PM

August 07, 2004

Midori Finally Lays Some Eggs

We came home tonight to find our red-eared slider turtle Midori had finally laid some eggs. She was nearly a month late from her usual schedule.

She laid 14 large ones and three or four small duds. She'd been in considerable discomfort for some time, so we were glad that she was producing.

She likely has more to go, as she usually lays around 40 each summer.

She ravenously gobbled down a good serving of pink salmon that we'd baked the other night, and then immediately fell asleep in a fresh change of nice, warm water.

Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2004

Turtle Meets Cat

Our red-eared slider turtle Midori met Gadget, our neighbour's cat, this evening, and it was hilarious watching them interact.

It's been very hot and dry here in the lower mainland of BC, so we've been using dirty water from Midori's tank to water our outdoor plants. I lugged Midori and her tank outside, and my wife Yumi watched Midori as I spread the water around, and took the tank back inside for cleaning and re-filling.

When I got back outside, Yumi whispered to me, "Midori is going down the slope toward Gadget!"

Sure enough, Midori was trundling along the dirt slope beside the concrete stairs, straight toward an extremely interested, focused, and somewhat perplexed, Gadget.

We're animal lovers, however we've never been able to win over Gadget, who is a very aloof cat. In nearly 3 years living here, he's allowed me to touch him only once, and has never come within range of Yumi.

Anyway, as Midori neared Gadget, who was getting increasingly twitchy, I thought I'd better close quarters to referee the encounter.

Midori got within half a meter of Gadget before she noticed a possible predator -- she's been an indoor turtle all her life, and I think her instincts have been blunted. I decided to intervene, and picked Midori up and extended her toward Gadget, who responded by sniffing at her furiously as Midori "went turtle" and retracted all of her extremities.

Gadget was so interested in Midori that he began winding himself between my legs as I held her about a foot off the ground. He even submitted to petting before back-tracking Midori's trail to get another whif.

He came back down to us and did the wind again, so Yumi thought she'd try her chances and came down to join us. Lo and behold, Gadget twined her, too, and allowed Yumi to pet him.

Midori was semi-extended at this point, but as soon as Gadget stuck his nose in her face again, she turtled and disappeared. We figured Midori was getting enough stress for a first encounter, so we broke off the engagement and retired inside to regale ourselves with our observations.

What's going on in the heads of these two animals? You can't read too much in, however Gadget seemed to understand that Midori was "with us," and Midori showed some signs that we'd "back her up" before instinct completely took over.

Gadget I can understand, but what about Midori? Some books say certain species of turtles appear to learn to respond to names and such. Those brains may be the size of peas, but sometimes I find myself wondering if they process more than we humans think they do....

Posted by Paul at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2004

Frustrated Turtle

Our red-eared slider turtle Midori is going through her "eggy" phase, and it's tough to watch her apparent suffering.

You see, when we brought her to Canada from Japan where we orginally got her as a pet when she was not much bigger than a toonie, we were told as part of the import procedures that we were not allowed to breed her.

So late spring every year she starts getting antsy, and unfortunately gets no relief. Placid throughout most of the year, as the hormones surge, she becomes increasingly active, pacing throughout the house searching for a mate.

She sniffs the corners, scratches at the carpet, looks longingly at herself in any reflective surface, and demands increasing attention from us. Whenever she spots us, she comes trundling over, begging to be cuddled and stroked. She stretches her head upward and pushes up with her front legs in an "uppy, uppy!" motion.

I guess the contact takes her mind off her struggle.

I sometimes get the feeling that in hopes of finding a guy, she drags out the process, causing herself additional pain as the eggs get larger. Then again, what does a guy know?

Eventually she'll start laying, but until then, she'll be doing laps in and out of her tank and around the house.

She can't even sleep through the night anymore, and lately often wakes us up when she pushes chairs around in the kitchen nook at 5:00 a.m.


Midori sometimes likes to sleep in a cushy basket on top of a hot water bottle. Here she is emerging one morning a few weeks ago when she was still sleeping through the night.

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2004

Invasive Turtle

My wife and I finally managed to sneak up and get a good enough angle on the turtle in the overflow pond near the Byrne Creek spawning habitat to identify it as a red-eared slider.

We have a red-eared pet that we got in Japan some seven or eight years ago, and we soon learned they are not native either to Japan, or Canada.

When we moved to Canada in 1999, we had to get an import permit from the Feds, and a possession permit from the BC provincial government. We are not allowed to breed Midori, our pampered princess, nor are we allowed to set her free in the wild.


The above photo shows Midori on my lap a few days ago.

It's sad to see pets discarded, or escaped into the wild. Especially ones that are not native to our area. Nurturing reptiles is a major responsibility, one that we, and obviously many other people, were not aware of when they succumbed to the cute scrambling of baby turtles in some pet shop.

We love Midori, we spend a lot of time on her, and now know that she could live to 30 or even 40 years.

That's a BIG responsibility.

We encourage other potential turtle buyers to think about this. Your initial $10 or $20 investment could result in many years of care....

Whatever you do, please don't dump your reptile (or any other beast) into your local creek or pond. There's a good chance it's not native and could either die, or multiply with drastic consequences to local species.

If you can't handle it, call your local SPCA, Wildlife Rescue, Streamkeeper,
Birding, whatever nature group.

Someone will know of a better option. :-)

Posted by Paul at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2004

Midori Awakes

After three months of hibernation, our red-eared slider turtle Midori is happily sprawled out on a blanket on my lap as I write this. She dozes off, then blinks and cocks an eye up at me, seems reassured I'm still there, and snoozes again.

She hadn't really been hibernating for some time, so we decided to officially wake her up. We keep her in the spare bedroom with the heat off in the winter, however since it's on the south side of the house, the temperature was getting as high as 15C recently -- certainly not conducive to hibernation.

She was a bit disoriented when we removed her from her hibernation tank, however she was soon basking in the late afternoon sun. She hasn't made any attempt to enter her normal tank in the living room, though I'm sure her stomach will soon inform her brain that she hasn't eaten anything in three months :-).

It's been quiet around here, but that's going to change!

Posted by Paul at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)