12 May

Zinnia’s Collar: Going To The Vet Is Not The Same..

by Jon Katz

I love talking to the vet techs and staff at our vet, the Cambridge Valley Veterinary Service, they are professional, competent, smart, and funny.

Cassandra is usually all business, but she is the person I most want to hear on the other end of the phone when there’s trouble with my dogs, she and I have been through enough dog drama for a Netflix docu-drama.

She helped care for Red, Frieda, and Lenore. She is impressive in many ways, honest, caring, very smart. And also very direct. When I wasn’t being careful enough about Red’s activity, she let me have it. She is a wonderful advocate for animals.

I took Zinnia to the vet to buy a new collar – they sell the best and strongest collars – but it’s a different experience. I can’t go into the building any longer, I have to pull up outside and call them, and Cassandra or Nicole will come out.

Zinnia is still growing, I’m calling her “moose” now. This is her third collar.

They bring Zinnia inside, I pay over the phone. Today, they fitted Zinnia with a new collar, she has worn out or outgrown several. When they were done checking her out and trimming her claws (she was delighted to go inside and see her buddies there) they brought her back to the car.

I did get to talk to Cassandra for a minute, she said the practice has been swamped, lots of people are going to shelters and getting puppies to help them get through their sheltering-in-place.

The practice is urging people to get their dogs trained, so they won’t be shocked or disappointed in six months when some of the puppies are Zinnia’s size.

Almost everything about our lives is different, except life inside of the farmhouse. Cassandra helped me choose a new collar for Zinnia, no more pink for now.

I’m touched by how people always find a way to speak to one another, even though masks and social distancing.

8 May

It Took One Day For Zinnia To Ride In The New Car

by Jon Katz

I got my new Rav 4 2020 Suv yesterday, and I resolved to keep it clean and new car smelling for a couple of weeks. That meant keeping Zinnia out of it. My friend Sue and Maria both laughed at me.

“She’ll be in the car the next day,” both of them said. They were right. As I got ready to go out this morning, Zinnia ran to the door and when I told her to stay, she just looked incredulous and then deflated, she lay down on the floor and put her head between her paws.

So Maria prepared a special blanket, we put it in the car and Zinnia joined me. For half of the ride, she put her head on my shoulder, which she can reach now.

She likes the new car find, and I’m glad to get it over with. When you live with three dogs, the car isn’t going to be very clean for too long. But Zinnia is, and I can’t say I feel bad about it.

4 May

Zinnia And I Bought A New Car Today

by Jon Katz

The last thing I expected to do this week was to get a new car, but that’s what Zinnia and I did today. I’m getting rid of the car Maria and I have shared and driven as long as we have been together.

I spent more than $2,000 in the past few months on my very beloved 11-year-old Toyota Highlander SUV.

Maria and I drove all over the country on book tours in the car, I hoped to keep it for years longer, but my mechanic tells me the underbelly of the car is rusting away and I will need to spend another thousand dollars or so on brake work.

We nearly wrecked the car twice hitting deer, and skidded all over the place during our icy winters.

The car has 180,000 miles on it. I wasn’t sure we could even buy a car right now, but I called a local Toyota dealership on impulse and Nicky answered the call.

Today was his first day back at work after a month-long layoff. I was ready to buy, he was ready to sell. I know car dealers are desperate to sell cars these days, I thought it was a good time to move.

I knew we wouldn’t get a lot of money for the Highlander, Nicky said $1,500 was the most he could offer.

My philosophy of dealing with car salespeople is to treat them with respect but bargain hard, especially now. Nick was honest and professional with me.

Like everything else right now, getting a car is surreal. You can’t go into the showroom but you can sit in the reception room near the service area. Staff and buyers are wearing masks.

You can test drive a car by yourself, then the ballet continues – everyone in masks, haggling and negotiating on chairs six or more feet apart. Very different.

Zinnia was amazing, she came into the dealers with me, and sat on the floor quite still receiving admirers, many with treats. I had left her in the car, but the mechanic who inspected the SUV told me she was very sweet and should come inside. So she did.

Zinnia is the most amazing dog, I can take her anyplace with confidence.

I had a fixed budget in my head, and Nicky and I decided the best financial move was to lease a car for three years for a cost of $325 a month, a lot less than I expected to pay. It was a good deal, the best I could get.

The leasing idea makes sense to me now, I didn’t need a down payment (I might need the money for other things, like surviving). And I stayed within my budget. Every other time I bought a car, I just got one with all the junk on it.

I want to do it differently now, in this work, at this time. I was fixated on a hybrid and a Rav 4.

I test drove a 2019  Rav 4, and was about to shake on it (we don’t shake anymore since the Pandemic, we nod) when Nicky was called into the office, and then embarrassed to tell me the car had just sold online.

So I’m getting a new Rav 4, a 2020 model for the same amount. It might be blue or the black color above.

In three years, I can buy it or get another car. I like the car, it’s a big step for me. It’s smaller than any car I’ve bought but big enough, it is an SUV.

I insisted on buying a hybrid, I wanted to weave more of my life around dealing with the environment, this model gets about 41 miles to the gallon. My wish is that everyone chooses smaller cars with better mileage. I’ve given up plastic bottles of any kind, going solar, downsizing my car.

I really want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

We are also getting our solar panels installed in the pasture in the next month or so. A green year for me, for us.

The hoax for me is that climate change isn’t real. Maria and I are committed to doing better for our sister, the Earth. It is now something we share together.

So tomorrow or Wednesday, I’ll say goodbye to the loyal SUV that has served us so well and start a new chapter in my life with cars.  I love my car, but I don’t love my car if you know what I mean.

Maria has her own car, but we often drive together.

And I have to say, Zinnia is a phenomenal dog, she is everything I wanted and needed. I dropped the leash in the dealership and she just hung out with us, greeting a few people, mostly dozing at my feet.

I can’t quite remember life without her. She is an anchor.

3 May

Zinnia, Fate, And The Slumdog: The Treat Drawer

by Jon Katz

I couldn’t tell you honestly which of our three dogs is the most spoiled.

Zinnia is the Princess, the Dog of Privilege, bred and raised in a Mansion on a gorgeous piece of Connecticut property. I used to call her the Wasp Princess, but this deeply offended some people (although there is truth in it) so I just call her the Bedlam Princess now.

I don’t mind pissing people off for a good reason, but Zinnia is all about love and smiles.

I want to thank Mary, a blog reader with a lovely dry sense of humor (people with a sense of humor are rare these days), she called Bud Zinnia’s Playmate Slumdog, and this is a great name for him.

It fits.

Bud traveled the realms of Hell before he came to us, and honestly, he is the most spoiled of our dogs. I feel guilt for the human race when I think about his early life.

Bud has survived so much trauma,  starvation, brutality, and illness that we feel he deserves to be spoiled, and he is showered with hugs, kisses, the right to the sofas, and an endless stream of healthy treats. Even when he dumps in the bathroom in icy cold weather, he can do no wrong for us.

Fate is only marginally interested in treats, what she wants is to work. She does love the Treat Drawer, but if Maria or I move to the door, Fate will leave the treat drawer in a flash. Fate has great pride, she never begs or grovels or surrenders her border collie dignity.

The drawer is always stuffed with treats, mostly rawhide alternatives that are natural and easy to digest. Once Fate managed to get the draw open and we found treat bags all over the dining room floor.

We are grateful Fate has not yet figured where the power tools are.

Zinnia is just royalty, she sees treats and attention as her due and is never surprised or excited by them,  although she loves to get them. She is regal, adoration is her due, she never lunges for treats, she knows they are coming.

Bud can hardly believe his eyes here, he takes nothing for granted and shows eternal gratitude and excitement for every morsel or hug he gets. His ugly stump of a tail is going back and forth all day.

I guess they are all spoiled, this was tonight’s gathering at the Treat Drawer. Please note two of the dogs are looking at me, one is looking right at the drawer.

Bedlam Farm