Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ten cats, ten stories UPDATE


This is Kiki (Kikki, KiKi) here with
Gabriella (Gabby, Gabs, Skunk) because their human family became homeless.

This is Jet, the baby He's a kitten now, but he's very well mannered and will be a fine cat.  He came from a feral colony, but you can see there's nothing wild about him.  (Well besides foolish kittenish behavior that is)

Well, that was him the day after we caught him.

And this is him now. I couldn't get a picture of him like I usually see him, I can't seem to use the camera when he is lying on my keyboard snuggled around my hands. Hard to work around, but oh so lovey.

Chi.  Her mom dropped her and her siblings in the dust in front of my door.  They were wet newborns and had to be bottle-fed.  Like all bottle fed babies, Chi is spoiled and doesn't think of herself as a cat.  She would be a lot happier living somewhere there weren't those pesky kitties around so she could sleep on someone's face in peace and not have to share the warm bodies at night.   She was born crippled, but therapy gave her strong legs, and she was a sick kitten who the vet dubbed a miracle.  She no longer is a special needs cat, but at 6 years of age, now she has prejudice working against her.

Dora is most definitely a special needs cat.  She has asthma and a condition called stomatitis.  Right now, her condition is controlled with supplements and special dental gels, but in her future there may have to be a special type of dental operation.  She loves to sit high on your chest so that you can't see around her, is a great alarm clock, loves to talk and makes a good secretary.  She reminds you when to feed the dogs, when to medicate anyone on meds, when to take the dogs outside and when to sit awhile with the kitties.  Especially her.  She watches the trains go by and has taught Ebonetta to enjoy doing the same.  But exploration is her first great love, since she could first toddle. 

Salem is considered special needs, she has a condition called herpes (don't worry, it's not the kind people can get), but she doesn't have many problems from it.  Once in awhile she gets a teary eye and loses the hair around her eyes and mouth.  Usually that is a sign of stress in her, like when we have an overload of cats waiting for adoption.  She was left here when her owner died.

Ebonetta wrote her story in an earlier post.  Sadly, neither she nor her brother Onyx have found their forever homes yet.

Gabby (written about earlier along with her housemate KiKi) is also still available.

Amber is another special kitty.  She has asthma and needs medication mostly in wet desert summers.  (I know, sounds like an oxymoron, but we live in Tucson.  Normally most of our rain falls in the summer monsoons.)  This year was very dry and she has had only mild attacks.  She recently had all but two teeth pulled, and she is only six, but she had a hard beginning to her life.  Her very feral mother brought her and her siblings into our garage and came to our door, crying until I followed her to the babies.  They were soaked in oil and covered in grease.  It took a long time to get those kittens healthy, and a longer time to get Amber so that she could keep food down.  Turns out she is allergic to beef, chicken, wheat and corn.  Her very favorite food in the world?  Doughnuts.  She will try to pry them out of your mouth if she knows you have them.

This is Onyx, another sweet rescue feral.  He loves to hug and be hugged, and when you try to leave, he wraps himself around your feet.  He loves to sit on you as much as his sister Ebonetta likes to sit near you.  But where she likes to pet you, he only likes to be petted.

Finally, there's Bubba, Dora's brother.  Take out a camera and he's there, posing.  If you want a picture of someone else, you have to be sneaky or his face or feet will appear magically in the frame.  He was my mom's cat and she kept telling him how pretty he is.  It must have sunk in.   He is as healthy as his sister is sickly.  He likes to bathe people and kittens and the young cats adore him, sleeping on top of him and trying to get him to play.  However, he doesn't much like Kiki, we aren't sure why, and he really would prefer fewer cats to bathe.

I'm sure you are wondering why we would allow any and all of these cats to be adopted, but as much as we love them, we are in rescue.   And right now, rescue is hard.  One organization I have fostered for in the past is having so many problems getting homes that they have not taken in any more for a year.  And that is a large group with a lot of foster parents.  Our local humane society, who normally shows my kittens for me,  is inundated with cats and kittens who's families are homeless and desperate, and doesn't have the room.  If we can place any of these cats, especially the kittens, we will be able to open up room to save others that are either special needs, need special handling or just need more time.

I have sad news. The economy has struck us hard. We are down to one income, which is limited to minimum wage and 19.5 hours while I am in school, and we are filing for bankruptcy. We do not want to risk that these wonderful cats are subjected to less than good care, so  we have struck a deal with the local Humane Society to take them. They took seven healthy, adoptable cats. You can see them at, HSSA-Humane Society of Southern Arizona,  3450 N. Kelvin Blvd, Tucson, AZ  327-6088 If you are looking for a loving companion, please take one of these wonderful kitties. Don't be put off by their photos, they are scared and their photos were taken before they were given a chance to understand why their worlds are turned upside down. To see what they really look like, see above.

Why Fix What Wasn't Broken

Why Fix What Wasn’t Broken?
An Angora rabbit interrupts an autistic child’s self-destructive behavior by pressing up against the boy’s chest and pawing his arms. The child reaches for the silky fur and calms himself. A pot-bellied pig senses that her diabetic owner’s blood sugar levels are dangerously high. After nudging the woman toward the easy chair, a signal that a blood test is needed, the pig retrieves a diabetic kit from the refrigerator. A cat comes running when his owner cries out in pain and drapes himself across the afflicted limb. Before Attorney General Eric Holder signed the new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) revisions on July 23, 2010, these animals would be called service animals.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice fact sheet, under the old rules, the ADA “defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.” The act also says that service animals have to know what to do when either a command is given, or there is a triggering event such as their owner crying in pain or becoming non-responsive. They must help with physical, psychological and psychiatric disabilities. However, their use for comfort or emotional aid is excluded. In other words, the cat that lies on your lap would not be a service animal, while the cat that comes to lie on a leg to ease neuropathic pain would be, as long as that is what it is trained to do and it can consistently do its task.
Although many species of animals have been trained to help their owners be more independent, and even to save their lives, the new rules are clear that they are no longer service animals. In the new ADA ruling that now says “service animal means any dog that is individually trained,” the wording that previously allowed for other animals has been removed. An exception is made for miniature horses, but although they are granted the same access as service dogs, they are not considered to be service animals. According to the ADA, this ruling was made to eliminate confusion. However, many are confused about what a service animal is, even when it is a dog.
My mother was refused entry into Fry’s Shopping Center when she tried to shop using her brace dog Jasper (a brace dog helps steady a person on their feet and helps them to stand up). Even though Jasper was wearing a working harness, my mother was not blind, so the store manager believed she had no right to use her dog. He demanded registration paperwork, asked how she was disabled, and wanted to know who trained her dog. He then told her that because my sister was with her, my sister could assist her and therefore the dog was not needed. Nothing my sister or mother said could make him believe that he was in violation of the ADA, and he would not read the ADA rules my sister handed him. Like many others, he believed that a service dog is a guide dog for the blind, and has to be a German Shepherd, Labrador, or Golden Retriever, trained by a professional group and certified. Despite the fact that the ADA has always made it clear that there are no size or breed limitations, owners may train the dog themselves and there is no certification process, many of the disabled are wrongfully denied access or service. If store chains as large as Fry’s are confused about what kinds of service dogs are allowed, it doesn’t seem likely they would be less confused when they are required to also allow a miniature horse inside their stores.
It is puzzling why miniature horses are allowed access along with dogs, and the reasoning is not explained. Typically, these little horses are trained as guide animals for the blind, or as brace animals that help people walk or stand. They have turned out to be very suitable for their work, are easy to housebreak and are a viable alternative for people allergic to dogs, so it makes no sense to exclude them, but neither does it make sense to exclude other animals that excel in their work. The reason given for the ruling was to eliminate confusion, but to do that, the ADA should only allow certain breeds of dogs, trained by experts, with documentation and wearing a vest or special tag. None of that is required, and allowing miniature horses cannot do anything but cause more confusion.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to rule that any trainable animal can be a service animal?
Beyond the confusion, though, is the discrimination against disabled persons this rule brings about. Many people have spent considerable money, time and love training their helpers. Training and maintaining a service animal is not cheap when trained professionally, and if you go it alone, you still have the expense of purchasing the animal, the equipment and often the training materials. It takes years for most animals to learn enough to be a good helper. In the case of a large dog it is about half their lifespan. With many of the disabled, during those years of training their own health and strength may have declined to the point where they cannot train another helper. This may make them dependent on human care, which takes away their independence and is costly. Some may choose to struggle along on their own, but paraplegics without their Capuchin monkey helpers will lose the most. The monkeys are able to clean and cook for their charges, help them eat, brush their hair and teeth and have saved lives. How is a horse or dog supposed to run a microwave or spoon feed a person? Yet monkeys are specifically excluded as service animals.
Helping Hands, the largest organization training Capuchin monkeys, does not encourage the monkeys to be used in public because they can be quite shy. It is true that Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rules should protect the handicapped from losing their helpers. Under HUD rules, the definition of assistance animals allows a broader interpretation of what an assistance animal is and the FHA does not define them at all. So if no one intends to take their monkey shopping or to a movie, and landlords cannot charge pet fees or evict a handicapped tenant that has a furry caretaker, one might ask what difference can changing the rule to exclude them as service animals make? Without the force of protection by the ADA, helper monkeys are just exotic animals which cannot be shipped across state lines. States and cities can also ban the ownership and use of the Capuchins, and can confiscate and remove the monkey from the home without violating HUD or FHA rules. Further, the HUD and FHA rules may not protect a disabled person, even if all that is owned is something as common as a cat. In an analysis by Rebecca J. Huss of the Pepperdine School of Law, she notes that “the case law in this area is complicated by the fact that the language of the ADA regulations is often used and state courts are asked to interpret federal law. This leads to inconsistency in the decisions and confusion over what standard should be applied.” The new rules will increase this confusion, not reduce it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
There are many animals who have served well for many years, and sometimes they are the best animal for the situation. People with neuropathic pain have found that having an animal drape itself across the site of pain is the best pain relief, and nothing drapes better than a cat. Pot-bellied pigs have an excellent sense of smell and have been used to let diabetics know when their sugar levels are too high or low. They are also exceptionally smart and are better able to figure out what to do even without specific training in new situations. A dog can be trained to call 911, but what if there is no phone handy and he hasn’t been taught a backup plan? In that case, the dog will probably lie down and wait for directions. A pig will go and find help. One pig even stopped traffic to get help for his owner. Monkeys use their hands to care for their charges. Even rabbits have their place. They are easily trained to distract autistic children, who are also comforted by their tactile aspect and their tendency to be affectionate without being demanding. These children are often very specific about what animal works for them. If they want a bunny, only a bunny will do.
Another problem with the ruling is that no clarity was given to the definition of comfort or emotional aid, but service animals are excluded for that use. People with psychological or psychiatric disabilities are allowed to train an animal for their use. That makes for more questions. Does the trained dog of a clinically depressed person qualify as a service animal? It seems that the answer is yes, if the dog is trained to ground the person to reality, but not if it is only trained to comfort the person when depressed. What is the difference? How do you define the difference?
Finally, there is no leeway for people with allergies to grass, and fear of dogs. This is not an unusual combination. Grass is a very common allergy, and horse feed is comprised of types of grass and grains. Many people are terrified of dogs of all types, big or little. Phobias should not be dismissed lightly. Even if a phobic person decided to get a dog to replace the beloved cat that kept that person from committing suicide, the chances of a life-saving bond being formed are slim.
The ADA needs to reconsider this discriminatory ruling. There are too many people that are adversely affected, and too many loving animals that have dedicated their lives to service may be have to be given up or even killed. With this ruling, the disabled may lose the ability to be self-sufficient, live by themselves, or even stay out of a care facility. When the disabled lose the right to choose what service animal works best for them, they lose more than just a simple helper. They lose their autonomy.

Huss, Rebecca J., “Why Context Matters: Defining Service Animals Under Federal Law”  Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 37 (5 Feb. 2010): 1163. Web. 28 Nov. 2010Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-02.
United States Department of Justice. “Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals in     Places of Business.”  14 Jan. 2008.Web 29 Nov. 2010. <>
United States Department of Justice. “Fact Sheet—Highlights of the Final Rule to Amend the Department of Justice’s Regulation Implementing Title II of the ADA.”  7 Oct. 2010.Web 27 Nov. 2010.
Huss, Rebecca J., “Why Context Matters: Defining Service Animals Under Federal Law”  Pepperdine Law Review, Vol. 37 (5 Feb. 2010): 1163. Web. 28 Nov. 2010Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-02.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Peach Tree

I really hate poetry. Reading it always reminds me of the commercial for nonstick pans with the egg sliding right off. My mind is the pan and the poem is the egg. So what in the world would make me write a poem? The challenge. And I think I did pretty good. This is what I turned into my Honors writing course. I got my grade back last week and got 29/30 points for the poem. Good enough, I think. This is based on Wallace Stevens "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."

Mary Ross
Joshua Cochran
Writing 102 Honors
February 28, 2011
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Peach Tree
Above endless rainless landscapes,
The only gentle sight
Was the cloud of the peach tree.

I have lived nine lives,
Like a kine
Eats the fruit from nine peach trees.

The peach tree smiled in the autumn sun.
Its leaves were spread to make a canopy.

A cat and a goldfinch
Are right.
A cat and a goldfinch and a peach tree
Are right.

I never know which is sweeter,
The merit of paradigms
Or the merit of humbleness
The peach tree blooming
Or plain leaved.

Frostiness coats the birdbath
Until the sun rises.
A flower from the peach tree
Gleams with hoar and rime.
For now,
Trapped in beauty.
Its discontinuity dawns.

Oh, wild cats of Tucson,
Why do you ascend thorny trees?
Can you not keep safe the peach tree
That provides you shade
And the finches that eat fruit?

I dream stories untold
Of many indiscriminate options;
In those dreams, still,
Thoughts of the peach tree invade
To steal my dream.

When the peach tree danced in the wind
It reached and was
One with the purple ranger.

The blooms of the peach trees
Dancing in a pink cloud
Inspires the gods of hiemal
Who stop winds brittle.

She rode across Tucson
On a pink cloud.
Then, the finches joined her,
As she flew faster
The shadow of her legion
Sowed peach trees.

The monsoon is coming.
The peach tree must be dancing.

It was summer and lightning
It was raining
And it was going to rain
The peach tree waved
In the thunder winds.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


 I find that I really enjoy taking something and making something else out of it. Sometimes it is as simple as repainting a cabinet, cutting some holes in it an turning it into a video game cabinet.

or painting a plain boring fan to fit into the room better

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One Month Later

Today marks one month after the shooting of Gabby Giffords. The Arizona Republic is running a series detailing the events of that day. One of the things that struck me was the description in chapter 2 of the bystanders swarming the emergency vehicles and grabbing equipment. Obviously, the people at the scene were in full rescue mode.
As an update on Gabby, the latest word is pretty sparse. One of her staffers, talking to a local newscaster, said that she is busy with rehab, including speech rehabilitation, and her doctors describe her recovery as "lightning speed". Her husband has decided to go ahead with his space mission. If she is able to communicate with him, I am sure that she pushed him to go ahead and do it. All He had to say was that she is so busy he isn't able to spend time with her right now anyway and he expects her to attend the launch.
These are the links to the articles:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tucson Heroes, More than you know

Living here in Tucson, we know how special the people here are. We know that when your car breaks down, people jump out of their cars to help push you out of the road, and while you are sitting by the side of the road waiting for your tow company, at least a dozen people will stop and ask if you need to use a cell phone to call for help. We know that if you are in a grocery store and aren't sure how to fix that strange fruit or vegetable,all you have to do is hold it up and ask if anybody knows what to do with it and you will leave with a head full of recipes. We know that people here are nosy. Thank God they are nosy, because that is where our heroes come from.
Everyday, we are hearing more and more about the heroics of that awful day 2 weeks ago. Many of the other heroes will not make the prime time news. For instance, you've heard about Dorwin Stoddard who died  shielding his wife. Did you hear about  Mary Reed who shoved her daughter up against a wall and shielded her, taking 3 bullets? Mary survived and her daughter was physically unscathed. How about George Morris? He tried to shield his wife and was shot twice, one bullet hitting a lung. Unfortunately, his wife died despite his attempt. He is still a hero for trying. Then how about Kenneth Dorushka who pushed his wife to the ground, held her down when she would get up and run and shielded her. He was shot in the arm that protected her. Never mentioned is the Safeway employee from produce who was outside chatting with Shayne Stuge, a bagger. I haven't been able to find his name, but Shayne credits him with pulling her to the ground, saving her life. And then there was Federal Judge John Roll. Many know he was killed, but it has been discovered that he pushed  Ron Barber down, guiding him under a table and shielded Ron with his own body, taking a bullet in the back.

Ron Barber owes his life to two people. Judge Roll, who shielded him, and Anna Ballis. Anna was there to shop, but when the gunshots sounded, she ran to Barber and applied pressure to his wounds. Doctors say that he would not have made it to the hospital without her help. She wasn't the only person to run towards the sound of bullets. There was of course Daniel Hernandez, who ran towards the gunfire and saved Gabriel Giffords. An unnamed Samaritan helped Doris Tucker keep her husband Jim from bleeding to death.  David and Nancy Bowman are a doctor and nurse couple that tried to save little Christina-Taylor Green. Sadly, they failed.
Another person known to run towards the gunfire was Joe Zamudio. He was at the Walgreens when he heard the gunfire. Armed, he readied his gun as he ran towards the gunfire, ready to shoot if need be. At the same time an unnamed person hit Loughner with a chair, Bill Badger grabbed Loughner's left hand, Roger Salzgeber grabbed his right and they and pushed him down. Patricia Maisch grabbed a loaded magazine from the gunman and another unknown grabbed the gun. When Zamudo arrived, he disarmed the man who had taken the gun before bystanders could tell him that wasn't the shooter, so he turned his attention to helping hold Loughner down. Maisch had more heroics to perform. She knelt on the shooter's ankles until she noticed that Badger had been shot in the head and was bleeding profusely. She got someone else to sit on Loughner's ankles while she scrambled to apply pressure to Badger's wound. Badger was on blood thinners and could very well have died without her aid.

These are only the heros that can be singled out, and we don't know all of their names. Add to the list the store employees that grabbed clean aprons and paper towels and ran out to the carnage to give what aid they could, the police, the emts, the emergency room staff, the doctors... the list is huge. But it is very Tucsonian in nature to run to help, and I am proud to live here.

Government budgets

What drives me nuts are all the proposed cuts to pensions and medicare, programs that help the poor, schools, police and fire. When cities burn down because there aren't enough firefighters, honest citizens have to choose between robbery and starvation (and there are no cops anyway to make them think twice), cities become places no business wants to be, and even more of them move to China.
I think there would be a lot more fat cut if anyone making a million dollars last year got paid 1 dollar this year. Elected politicians should be paid no more than 150% of the median wage of their constituents, and only get the benefits they are willing to give the people they supposedly serve.
Or maybe we should pay them an hourly minimum wage. No overtime (since they don't require regular people to be paid overtime) and no pay for any time they spend politicking instead of working. They can run for office on their own dime. If they don't like it, maybe regular people can get the job done.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My favorite adoption

One of my favorite adoption stories was the cat that adopted me. Whenever I had to pull euthanasia duty, I would go into the cat room to recover. Sandy would always comfort me, standing up in her cage to put her paws around my neck and rub faces. Whenever anybody approached her, she was sweet and friendly to man, woman or child. I couldn't understand why such a sweet cat wasn't adopted. Finally, one of the councilors asked me to stand in the other room where Sandy couldn't see me and watch through the window. When anybody approached Sandy's cage, she backed into a corner and sat there indifferent. Her whole aura was a snub and off putting. I was told by everyone in the adoption room that she was always like that.I went into the room, she saw me and immediately started purring loudly mewing and rubbing the cage door, trying to entice the closet people, responding to them like they were her long lost loves. Eventually, she got sick and I was told to sign one of two papers, her death warrant or her adoption. Of course I adopted her. To me, she was always the sweetest most affectionate cat you could ask for. For others, she was rude and insulting. Did you ever see a cat flip someone off with her tail? Every person coming in my house was given the flip, and recognized it as such. One man didn't get the flip. Him, I married with her approval.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tucson's Memorial Service

     It has been a long time since I wrote here. I've been busy, though I've intended to get back to the blogging. I wanted to tell everyone about our adventures in soundproofing, about the momma dog and her puppies that we rescued, about the cats that need homes, but this tragedy, the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the people who came to speak to her, comes first.
     I'm sure you don't need to be told what happened last Saturday (the 8th of January) . I'm sure you have heard of the hero that ran toward the gunfire, not away, the gentleman who shielded his wife with his own body so that she may live, the man who struck the gunman with a chair, enabling others to take him down, to take his gun, and to take his gun. Did you know there was also nearly another tragedy to do with guns? A man with a weapon heard the gunfire, and ran to see if he could help. He intended to shoot if necessary. By the time he arrived, the gunman was unarmed, but this man didn't know it. He forced the man who had retrieved the gun to drop it. In the excitement of the moment, if the man hadn't, would he have been another victim? It did not take armed people to take the shooter down, and at the speed he fired, another gunman would have done nothing but add to the chaos, even if he didn't manage to kill some more innocent bystanders.
    But what prompts me to write today is the national response to our memorial service last night. Almost immediately after the service I started hearing and reading reactions to it. Some were favorable, but a distressing number were negative, questioning our grief because we cheered and clapped in appreciation for heroes and for the wonderful people that had been lost. If you don't understand,we weren't cheering the loss of life,  we were cheering our appreciation for the lives they had lived.
     We who live in Tucson are grieving. But last night was not a time for tears, though there were plenty, it was a time for celebrating the memories of lives lost, the lives saved and the heroes. It was not a eulogy, it was a memorial. There was no disrespect in cheering in appreciation for the magnificent people lost that day, and the people who prevented more deaths. Yes, Tucson can be raucous, it is a small town in a big, rough western body, but the people who choose to live here do so because it is an emotional, gregarious place. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. For those who don't think we grieve "properly", come here and see our grief. It is there, for all to see. 
     There were plenty of tears today at Christina Green's funeral today. There will be more for the others lost. The survivors won't be forgotten here when the media turns it's attention to the next big news maker. We take care of our own, and we grieve deeply and openly. But we also know how to celebrate the value of a life. More people should.