Once again, the pets rule our days!

Perhaps it isn’t fair to place so much emphasis on the demands of our pets. I suppose they’re not worrying about tomorrow.


I, on the other hand, worry enough for everyone. I often struggle with the idea that my animals only require “creature comfort” and are not in need of a great deal more than security and safety. I feel a slight pang of guilt when I leave Zena at home and no one will be with her all day. We go to great lengths to make the pets happy.

Despite the family eye-rolling, I can’t help myself. And often enough something will occur to reinforce my concern. We doubled Zena’s anti-anxiety medication and applied animal approved essential oils to calm her over the Fourth of July.

But upon coming home a week or so after the 4th I found her in absolute panic, and chewing at the door again! Off in the distance, sure enough, I could hear fireworks!


All this damage isn’t new. I am not investing in repair and a new door until…well, let’s just say there aren’t any plans while Miss Zena still has teeth.

And then there’s Pinky. I recently shared with you our concern about coyotes.  Jay has cooperated with my fear reasonable sense of responsibility and has each night brought her into safety. This often requires wrestling with a rabbit, twisting and coming close to hurting himself in the struggle.

We needed to make a change. Fortunately, alongside my hyper-vigilant approach to animal care comes adaptability and creative problem solving. I should also give a strong head nod of approval to a husband who cooperates with my planning and does ALL the hard work. I am a very competent supervisor, however, sharing my gift of encouragement.

We have repurposed an area in the side yard that was formerly used for the trash cans.

Quite a bit of work went into making these changes, but Pinky is now behind a closed gate at night, high enough above ground to feel safe if Zena decides to have a freakout and in general, we can still see her during the day to monitor her needs. This old “condo” has some limitations. I have my eye on a new bunny luxury suite. Soon, I hope.

And then there’s Darwin. I really wish I’d taken photos during the first phase of this most recent project.  The digging and outdoor destruction has been more than challenging. He weighs as much as the dog at this point and is getting larger all the time.


You can’t believe the degree to which he digs.

His needs are expanding along with his size. So we made the decision to give him most of the space we previously used for our greenhouse-turned-potting shed and we cleared accompanying space that will be turned into a Sulcata’s paradise.

This is a work in progress, but I have big plans. If we are going to give up prime real estate to this pushy guy, then I’m going to have some fun with it.

All of these changes and pet-related upgrades have kept us busy and we are in need of a vacation. So tomorrow we are headed to the beach for a few days and our house sitters can keep Zena calm and assured. They also won’t need to worry that Darwin is going to disappear in one of his epic tunnels, and no need to worry about the Pinky-coyote problem.

Sunset Newport Beach

And after a few sunsets over the ocean, we’ll come home refreshed and ready for the next round.

And here’s the surprise ending…

I have three days of work left in July, and then I’m retiring. Jay can’t have all the fun without me!

And besides, the animals need me–or so I tell myself!







38 thoughts on “Once again, the pets rule our days!

    • I hear you! It’s been suggested that I’m mourning my empty nest and treating my pets as children! Ha! Those teen years should have been enough…and you have three daughters? You’re a pro!

  1. First, congratulations on your retirement. You will love it! I can relate to the animal thing. I go through all sorts of creative problem solving. Especially for Jake when he was old. I’d try to be quiet when I went to the bathroom during the night and didn’t flush because I didn’t want to wake him and have him start howling. I always had pee towels near the litter boxes because if the boxes were already used he didn’t like that. I still miss him but I don’t miss the pee towel laundry! Your pets are very lucky they adopted you.

    • I’m very excited about this next chapter in our lives, Kate. Thank you! I think the hardest part of caring for pets is when they get old and begin to have such serious health issues and general decline. There’s something a little therapeutic in taking all those extra steps to care for our beloved pets knowing they need us. I know how much you loved Jake, and missing him still certainly does not surprise me. 😦

    • How nice to hear from you, Thea! And thank you! I am very eager to have more time to enjoy home and family. Once I made the decision I found it hard to delay! 🙂 Hope you are doing well. ox

  2. Three . . . Two . . . One . . . HAPPY RETIREMENT!!!
    (Imagine quiet noise makers going off so as not to rattle Xena.)

    Have a blast at the beach.
    Come back refreshed and ready for the next leg of your journey.

    • Thank you for considering Zena’s delicate emotional balance in setting off the fireworks! I’m really looking forward to this new chapter…you’ve made retirement look very appealing. 🙂

  3. Oh Debra! Your pets certainly are keeping you on your toes! I can’t believe the damage to the door. I know a lot of dogs who are terrified of fireworks but fortunately, my dogs have never been bothered by them. And as for Darwin! All that digging! I had no idea they were so into digging. You enjoy your break – you surely do need it! xx

    • We are at the beach this week completely relaxed, Charlie. Thank you. I do call home to ask about the dog, however. LOL! I can’t help myself. It’s likely that the dog is sensing my own anxiety and in the end I’m probably responsible for the damage to the door! She has used this one door for her “chew toy” for a few years now. Fortunately it isn’t our front entry! 🙂

  4. Hi Debra – we have an older dog who gets agitated at night. Our vet gave us these treats that work so well to calm her down we couldn’t believe it. They were sold out of them over 4th of July! Here is the company website – http://vetriscience.com. The treats are called “Composure” and they are all natural ingredients. We love our girls and I so understand how time consuming they can be, especially as they age and need more care. I figure they give so much unconditional love, taking special care of them now is the least I can do. Congrats on your retirement too! Best wishes on your next chapter! Cheers! Eva

    • Thank you so much, Eva, for both the retirement “wishes” and the veterinary recommendation. I am definitely going to purchase Composure for Zena and see if she responds! We have made it through the fireworks, and as you know, we hardly ever have any thunder, but she has many triggers! LOL! Poor baby! And you’re right, of course, it is their unconditional love that absolutely bonds us to our dogs. It’s so nice to hear from you. Thank you. 🙂

  5. Yes! I am so glad you can retire too Debra! Congratulations! And with these changes you will now be able to enjoy short trips without worrying about the ‘babies’ at home too! I can’t wait to hear what your plans are for Darwin’s new play area… I envisage cactii and boulders and maybe a few tropical plants… does Darwin eat your plants if left alone?

    • I can’t wait to get started on Darwin’s new habitat, Cathy. It might take a while before it is very attractive, but I’ve been researching for function! I really don’t have a lot to go on except for what I observe and then hope I can match his needs. He does indeed eat my succulents if I let him roam freely. He’s fast and and has done some serious damage in the past. I really wish I had even more room for him, but I’m going to do my best. It’s true that retirement is going to give me so much more time to spend in the garden and many projects I’ve been interested in for years will finally have my attention! Thank you for the best wishes!

    • I’m back from my few days away, Colleen, and I now have just three days before I’m retired. It’s a very odd feeling, actually, but both pets and kids/grandkids will be front and center of my attention! 🙂

    • Thank you, Marie. I’m not at all worried about being bored at home. I am a little concerned that I have so many interests it might take me quite a while to focus! I hope I don’t walk around in circles for very long. 🙂

    • Thank you, Andra. I so appreciate your encouragement and enthusiasm regarding this week’s big event—hitting my retirement date! We got home today from a lovely turn at the beach, just in time for a crazy heatwave. We had a lovely time. xo

  6. By now you have probably left for your time away – yay! I wish you rest and enjoyment, knowing your beloved pets are well-cared for and safe. I always giggle seeing Darwin digging. You could right a book of Darwin stories, Debra – in your retirement. 🙂
    I know I should be looking at Pinky’s new domain, and Zena (poor Zena) and of course the wondrous Darwin, but, I might as well admit it, my friend, I see your Route 66 sign.

    • We were at the beach fewer days than most years, but I was grateful for four lovely days, Penny. Home now, and we came back to an incredible heatwave. It’s always a challenge to keep the animals AND the garden in the best shape when the heat is so intense and we still have some water restriction. One of the benefits of retirement, at least i’m hoping, is more time to attend to the needs of both! And yes, lol, you spied the Route 66 poster. When Jay turned 66 our sister-in-law went all out with Route 66 items. We put the poster out in the potting shed on one of the cabinet doors. I do think of you often there on the other end of the Mother Road! You have an attentive eye! 😉

  7. Congrats on your soon-to-be retirement, Debra!! I love the Darwin Stories book idea–your vacay beach time away may bring other writing ideas to you. Enjoy it fully!!

    • Thank you, my friend. I would have enjoyed a longer stay at the beach, but I say that every year, no matter how long we stay. 🙂 I may have to seriously think about Darwin “stories” at some point. He is surprisingly entertaining!

  8. Loving the tour of your little menagerie, Debra! Martin and I made a decision not to have any pets….. then two stray cats adopted us, one after the other. My daughter could no longer care for her dog, so we now have a Parson’s Jack Russell who seems to believe that we are living in her house! She has enriched our lives though and taking her for walks keeps us active. Enjoy your vacation and your forthcoming retirement ~ it’s a wonderful time but takes a while to get used to! 🙂

    • i love hearing about how your home slowly filled with pets, Jacqueline. Zena was actually a rescue dog. I continued to insist right up until the time she came to us that we didn’t have the time it takes to have a dog! But through friends we knew of the need and once I met her I caved! As much work as she is at times, we really love her and rarely feel encumbered. Thank you, too, for the thoughts about retirement. I think it is going to take a while to find some new rhythms, but I’m excited. 🙂

  9. Cheers to your retirement … heck, because I’m late for this post, has the big day arrived yet? My wife retired in April, and she’s just starting to relax into a routine. Of course me working part-time this summer has crimped her plans.

    You are such a good pet mom. … and Darwin’s digging makes me picture him in Hogan’s Heroes.

    • I just love the Hogan’s Heroes comment, Frank. So funny! We were out of town this past week with a vacation planned prior to my decision to retire at the end of the month. My last day of work is this coming Wednesday. Thank you for sharing that it has taken a while for your wife to find new routines. I have been wondering about that myself. I have many interests and I’m truly ready for this transition, but at the same time, I picture myself a little disoriented. I think it will indeed just take a little time!

    • Thank you so much, Cristina! It’s natural for others to ask me if we have plans to travel, or what I intend to DO with retirement, and I have been slow to reply. All I really have on my mind at the moment is more time to garden and time to enjoy my home. Your comment fits my desires perfectly! 🙂

  10. Well, congratulations are definitely in order, Debra. I bet there were times you never thought you’d never make it to retirement but here you are. Good for you! As a bonafide pet lover and spoiler, I smiled throughout your post. Your pets, like mine, really know how to pick their forever home. 🙂

  11. Pets are a responsibility aren’t they! And you’ve convinced me that I should stick to Budgies! All they need is some interaction with us, toys for when we’re busy and seed, fruit, green leaves and water. The book says clean the cage every week but in my experience Budgies love to root around in the discarded seeds and rip up the sand paper – so I clean out every other week. Peter passed on nearly 2 years ago now but Paul is still dangling upside down on the toy bells like a youngster (He’s 11 now!). We did contemplate rabbits when Alasdair was small but we have Foxes in our area which are as much a threat as Coyotes.

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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