a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

When I was at San Diego Comic-Con this July, I was on the look out for some new, interesting Chewbacca art. He’s actually not the easiest character to portray correctly. I was never able to find anything that I loved (well…Chewbacca wise I mean.) On the last day I made it over to the Chuck Jones Gallery….as evidenced by this purchase: https://a99kitten.com/?p=10450

While there, I also bought another piece. It caught my eye as soon as I walked in but I had been so involved in my purchase of Bad Girls that it took me a while to get over to it. It was not Chewbacca, and I typically don’t collect Leia art, but this piece definitely caught my eye:


It is a good sized piece – 36″ x 24″ on canvas. It’s an artist proof (#3 of 10) and extremely cool in real life :) I’m typically not into the modern or art deco look honestly, but the colors of this just grabbed me. I love the various silvers and greys with white and black (I think another reason I will always have a husky.) My color scheme at home is all browns. Deep, rich browns in various tones. So she doesn’t really fit in but it’ll work. I have a HUGE bus stop poster of Jango Fett framed from Attack of the Clones (all blues and silvers) so they will work together. As I was discussing this piece with the gallery rep, I asked if the artist had done any Chewbacca art. He said not that he was aware of but he could contact the artist. I had actually JUST missed him that day. Darn! And it turned out he left the gallery and went over to the Acme Archives booth inside SDCC. Doh!

Anyway, turns out that no, he had not any done Chewbacca art but that he always wanted to if it was the right feel. Chewie is hard because a lot of artists portray him too cartoony or goofy. I like the fierce Chewie. So we discussed him doing a commission just for me! He would have to get OK by LucasFilm once he did the piece but I was pretty excited!

On a conference call to discuss ideas for the piece, the artist (Mike) asked why I loved Chewbacca so much. That’s easy – because he was Han’s best friend. And protector. Who was big and strong and scared most people but he was a marshmallow inside…to his people. Just like Angelus and Storm were for me. Angelus even sounded like Chewbacca when he talked. And Chewie’s sounds were inspired by George Lucas’ malamute Indiana (who looks a lot like Angelus) so it was a perfect mix. Plus we live in Tahoe and the snow and I always called it Hoth when I’d take the buds out in the snow.

Mike loved the story and it turns out he and his wife are big dog lovers. So he appreciated my love of my buds. And how it translated to my love of all things Chewbacca. So I sent him a bunch of pics of the buds as well as my favorites of Chewie so he could get a sense of how I liked them. He obviously would be keeping it in his own style (art deco-ey, modern. See his site linked below) but incorporating the Chewie, Angelus and Storm in the snow.

The finished work arrived (yes, LucasFilm signed off on it!) and I just got it back from the framers. I. Love. It. He captured the expressions of Angelus and Storm perfectly. Like….perfectly. Plus having an original piece of art commissioned just for me is pretty darn nifty. The fact that it incorporates my beloved friends who are no longer with me along with one of my favorite fictional characters brings together 2 things that I have spent a lot of time in my life enjoying.

I look at this all the time and smile. The buds brought me smiles every day while they were with me, so it’s only natural they keep doing it.


Mike Kungl: http://www.mkungl.com/2/index.php There are **easily** a handful that I would love to hang in my house.

I received the below email today from the rescue organization where we adopted Shadow. They typically do not send out donation requests other than quarterly newsletters with the info on the back page. They are not an alarmist organization that asks for money every other day or sends out horrible “this dog will die if you don’t adopt now” notices like so many you see on Facebook or twitter. And I appreciate that because I know always they need the money and I know there are too many dogs in shelters.

But if you can spare even $5.00, it can add up to help Boscoe, who is still a baby who clearly had a horrible home but can be fixed up and find a good home from early on.

I didn’t include the pics of the injury because yuck. But am including Boscoe’s little face :)

Boscoe at vet

Boscoe at vet

I hate when people ask for donations so I don’t this easily. But this guy needs our help. We might not be able to help every dog, but we can help this one.


Hi friends – I want to let you know about a wonderful three-month-old Siberian puppy I pulled Friday at the Delano, CA, Shelter (central valley/middle of nowhere!). Shelter folks picked him up in a woman’s yard in town where he had laid down to rest, with a horrible gash on the inside of his right rear leg (photo attached) and with the femur on his other back leg out of socket! With no possibilities in store for him except the shelter, I took the 4 hour drive to Delano, and pulled Boscoe. By 4 pm I was at Fourpaws in Dublin and Dr. Tripi was looking at Boscoe (see attached photos)

Sweet Baby Boscoe is at Tripi’s for myriad issues. Chris worked very hard to pop the bone back in place; no go, which leads us to believe he has been limping around in this condition for a week, maybe 10 days or more. Apparently a car hit him. Tripi performed surgery yesterday, cutting the head of the femur and reinserting into the hip. The open wound on his other leg is awful – Tripi successfully sewed it back together, at the same time neutering him. So far the stitches in the wound are holding. And he is “surprisingly ambulatory” considering his injury. He has a little eye infection too, fleas and ticks for days, major tape worm. Yuck. So of course we treated for these parasites too. Bless his heart, this baby has been worked very hard in his short life time. just the sweetest puppy, probably no more than 3 months old, even too young for a rabies shot to take.

This surgery and related necessary vetting are pricey (especially considering our tipsy finances), but when I saw his photo on a rescue listserve, I knew Norsled had to help him. The good thing is he is so young he will bounce back, after proper containment during recuperation. Thank you to everyone for thoughts, concern and offers to help and contribute. Boscoe needs your help now urgently.

If you want to donate, just go to www.norsled.org, click on paypal and we will most appreciate it. You can also send checks payable to Norsled to address below. Please cross post any place you can think of. We need to raise money for this baby’s medical work. Thank you for caring for the huskies. Boscoe sends a woo woo to all of you.

Gail de Rita, Rescue/Adoption Coordinator
Northern CA Sled Dog Rescue (Norsled)
PO Box 30877, walnut Creek CA 94598 – phone 510 676 2215

“Without an Alaskan Malamute to guide me through the bleak landscapes of the soul, I would wander forever without finding my voice.” Susan Conant

Whoever said “money can’t buy happiness” never paid an adoption fee.
Save animals three times a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What have you done today to make the world a better place?
Torturing one animal is cruelty; torturing many is science.

It’s been a month since Stormy left me. Hard to believe it’s been a month already really. I still get sad and regularly think, for just that split millisecond, that I hear him moving around.

But when I start to feel sad, I try to remind myself that most people didn’t expect him to make it much past 8 once he was diagnosed with Cushings or past 9 when his 2nd liver tumor (and 2nd surgery) was diagnosed as cancerous. But instead he not only survived those things, he got to go to the beach, play in the snow, have fun, eat freshly made cheeseburger, make and play with friends, and bring everyone who met him smiles every day until he was 11.

When he could no longer stand on his own (late June), I knew our time was limited. I’d help him up and use one of those slings but then he didn’t want that after awhile. But he was still a happy guy every day. He loved to sit on the deck and watch chipmunks and birds. He loved his regular ear rubs, still ahrooed for his breakfast and loved his cheeseburger and cookies. I told him that I wanted him to stay as long as he wanted, but if he started feeling sick or in pain, he had to tell me.

On August 2nd he did tell me. But I do know that he was happy up until then. And I have to remember that is what counts: all of the time that I got to spend with him. I was lucky to have been able to bring my guys to work every day all of their lives, take them to the beach or snow every day, and then work from home and spend the extra time taking care of Storm when he needed it.

I miss my boys. I spent more time with them every day for 12 years than I did anyone else in my life. It’s hard to have that gone. They made me smile every single day. They were the best friends you could ever ask for. If you are lucky enough to have a critter in your life, make sure you hug and love them every day. They deserve it and don’t stay with us long enough.

Stormy puppy with Angelus

Storm and Angelus on bed

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

I hope you are running with Angelus chasing chipmunks.

I will miss you forever Storm.



…we adopted this messy, drooly, fluffy, critter-hunting pig pen of a beast…



Shadow has been a challenge for sure but he has made a lot of progress in becoming a good canine citizen. I’m glad we rescued him and have been able to give him a life he can enjoy, even if he says he is being abused when not allowed to catch all of the chipmunks that torment him from the yard :)

Storm still says “he is a disgusting mess and keep him far away from me.”

Adoption day

Adoption day

Got Snow?

Got Snow?



Today is Storm’s birthday!!! He is 11!

When he was 8, he was diagnosed with Cushings Disease and a lot of the info you find online about the illness says they survive 1-2 years at most.

And then when he was 9, he had 2 tumors removed (several months apart.) 1st one was determined to be benign but then the 2nd cancerous. People said don’t do the 2nd surgery, it’s just prolonging his illness, he won’t make it, the cancer will just come right back, blah blah. But that was by people that don’t know the guy well enough. Who had no faith in his awesomeness. His doctors and I knew better.

He is getting older and not as active or crazy as he used to be. But he still enjoys watching and sniffing for critters (just not trying to catch them and tear out their squeakers anymore), resting in a pile of snow and ahrooing for his breakfast :)

He is a superduper Hoth Stormtrooper (as confirmed by the AKC!) And he says “never count me out!”

Happy Birthday little buddy :)

Debating taking his birthday breakfast outside on the deck...

Debating taking his birthday breakfast outside on the deck…

Monster in cute puppy clothing...the day Angelus picked him :)

Monster in cute puppy clothing…the day Angelus picked him :)

One year ago today I lost one of my best friends.

It still makes me incredibly sad but at least I can look at his pictures or talk about him with a smile as I remember how much happiness he brought to my life. But today is a little rough. Or rrrruufffff as he would have said…


Angelus on deck

Angelus snow head

I miss you Angelus.

I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning. Very unusual for me.

Felt blah all day even though I got a boatload of work done. And wasn’t even hungry – also very unusual for me.

Then I realized the date. The 25th. I actually spent the day thinking it was 24th until I looked at my calendar. Ah.

I left for a 2.5 hour walk. I had to go to the post office so did that and then continued on to the coastal trail up to the HMB State beach and then back home. That was one of Angelus’ favorite walks because we could hit up the beach a couple times, lots of stuff to sniff, got to see (and bark at) the horses at the horse farm and best of all – no hills!

I lost him on March 25th. 7 months ago today. I still miss more than words can describe.

Shadow is interesting. I am 99.9% convinced he is husky/wolf (versus any other dog mix.) And yet I think Angelus was still more of a true alpha dog. Angelus would walk into dog parks or on the beach and other dogs just respected him. There was none of the rushing him or trying to dominate him you see when there are a pack of dogs and a new one comes in. It was like they just knew. They would run up to him but then just stop. And sniff. And respect. He would never, ever start a fight. Not one in his life. But he did finish a few. And they were mostly when other dogs attacked Storm. As alpha, it was Angelus’ job to protect his pack. And he did. Of course, Storm started most of them because he wanted to be the underboss only to Angelus.

Shadow definitely tried to assert his dominance a bit in the house when he arrived. As a rescue I think that is normal as he is trying to figure out where his place in the pack is. As long as it is addressed immediately, it should be fine. And he has gotten much, much better in the few weeks we have had him. I still won’t have food around when both he and Storm are together but they have been doing better and you can tell he is a sweetheart. But he doesn’t try and crap with me anymore.

Around other dogs he is typically very jovial and playful and not aggressive but does do the humping thing which is a sign of him trying to show his dominance. And has smacked down dogs who try and steal his ball. That’s normal dog behavior though. But he has actually allowed a couple of other dogs to try & hump him. Crikey – Angelus would not have had ANY of that business. Ever. But I think that’s because other dogs just knew not to try it. I don’t recall a time when a dog did try it with him. Well, Storm tried it when he was an older puppy, not quite teenager age. Angelus smacked him down a few times and we had to pull them apart a couple times. And then Storm realized it just wasn’t going to happen and never tried again (with Angelus that is.)

Interestingly, you see these same behaviors in people. The male species much more but not always limited to boys. How many times is the term Alpha Male thrown around? In reality, most of the boys it is attached to are more beta than alpha. Constantly trying to jockey for position and show who is more alpha. A true alpha is known. He does not have to show he is alpha. At times he could be challenged and will deal with it, but doesn’t need to walk around trying to show the others how he is the boss all the time. He just is. It’s confidence and respect.

Go hang out with a group of investment bankers, lawyers, CEOs or athletes. Rather entertaining really. But no, they are not all alpha males. Maybe they want to be. But there is only 1 alpha (male/female) in each pack. And watching all of the betas try and impress the alpha or challenge the alpha can be interesting. Of course you also have the omega. Poor Omega.

Take a football team, you have a group of over-testosteroned guys who all view themselves as top dog material trying to outdo each other. But really – the coach, or in a few cases, the QB (looking at you Peyton), are the true alpha. No one gives him any guff or challenges him. Period. And they generally suck up a little in the hopes they will be the pack beta who gets to take over at some point when the alpha is not around. When the alpha wolf is not around, a beta can take over temporarily. When the alpha in injured or dies, a beta will step up and take over. With people, you will see this jockeying a LOT. How many VPs suck up to the CEO on a regular basis?

Michael Corleone is a good example. Vito was alpha. Michael took over as alpha even while Vito was around because at some point, the alpha will step back. And then you had all of the buffers in the pack who want to be next to him and hope to take over as well as the alphas of other packs (although wolf packs generally leave each other alone – they are much more civilized than humans.) Humans tend to have a 2nd in command in place like the true Beta wolf. Like Spock or Number 1 on Star Trek :) With humans he is more of a patient, alpha type as well who can and will step in at the right time and not just a pack member who wants to impress or simply be part of the pack or *think* he can fill the alpha role. Human packs tend to have a lot of those. That kind of behavior gets smacked down pretty quick in wolf packs.

Being an alpha male doesn’t mean you walk around bellowing and being obnoxious and showing off. It means you have the most freedom to go and do what you want. And the pack naturally follows you. You get to mate with the alpha female. And wolves are generally monogamous. Most male humans who think they are alpha male seem to think it also gives them the right to mate with all the females they can find. Tacky.

When I lost Angelus, and someone asked if I would get another dog and what kind, I thought about that for a second. I knew I would want another dog in my life but didn’t know when. But what I did know was that I wanted another one like him. No other dog will ever truly be the same as he was very special. But I knew I couldn’t have a submissive dog. At the beach you see the dogs that just run up to everyone, love everyone and roll and submit to every dog. They are always sweet doggies but they weren’t challenging. At all.

Angelus and Storm have always been my dogs. They love me and I never doubted that. I was alpha to them. And when people came up to pet them or stop them and see them, they could not have cared less about them. They cared about their pack – people and dogs who they came to know well. But that’s it. Everyone else was there to give them a treat or move on. Stormy was more friendly and effusive to strangers as a puppy but then I think he took an Angelus’ (or maybe my?) traits. I’m not sure what that says about me, but the idea of slobbery, goofy, run up to everyone to love them and roll over kinda dog was not going to happen. Ever. I actually got sad thinking about that possibility.

I know some people prefer that type of dog (or significant other) because they don’t want to be challenged. Just want the submissive. They say people choose dogs that look similar to them. I have actually seen that in real life. Weird actually! Well, I don’t have pointy ears so don’t think I look anything like a husky! But maybe it’s more you go for dogs that match you (not necessarily in looks.)

Huskies are considered challenging and not meant for first time dog owners. They are highly intelligent but get easily bored and need to stay stimulated. They are great problems solvers (i.e. will break into the fridge and out of the yard.) They are very independent but are loving with their pack. They are friendly but are not overly effusive dogs with just anyone (see Golden Retrievers or Labs.) I think our personalities match pretty well. For better or worse :)

Yesterday we had a 4th of July BBQ to go to. I suggested we only go for a couple hours at most since Shadow is still new and he definitely seems to have serious separation anxiety. Husband said we’ll go and he will swing back in a couple hours to give both Storm and Shadow dinner, take them out and then head back to the BBQ for fireworks. OK…To be safe, I closed my closet door, hid my husky stuffed animal I keep on the bed (he stole it once before but didn’t damage it) and made sure all of the screen doors were secure (he knows how to open doors with his nose if ANY opening) and moved anything remotely edible from the kitchen counter.

Well, husband went back after about 2 hours. I got a text message that said “You don’t even want to know.” Oh boy.

Apparently Shadow grabbed my PJ shorts off the bed and shredded those. I liked those :( And took one of the bed pillows into the living room but only drooled all over it so it just needs a cleaning. Then by jumping on the door to the garage, opened the door and shredded the recycling. But the door closes on its own so it closed him in the garage where he was stuck without water until husband got there. He said he opened the garage door from the car and Shadow came running out and all stressed out looking He knew it would be bad from there.

He cleaned up a bit and fed both buddies (Storm was out on the deck perfectly quiet and content.) Then he brought Shadow back to the BBQ and just kept him on leash by him. When the fireworks started he did get stressed but husband walked him around and calmed him down and he was OK. Angelus HATED fireworks. And Storm could care less. Shadow seems in between on the stress scale about them. He zonked out in the car on the drive home and went inside and went right to sleep. The stress from the day clearly knocked him out. Poor guy.

It is clear he was hit when he did anything bad by his former parent(s). He gets very stressed and scared looking. I hate people. He was also probably left alone lot. We need to work on both of these things. He needs to feel safe. I knew leaving him that long would be bad. I raised 2 awesome dogs (perfect IMO but I might be a little teeny bit biased) who were never afraid of me or of being punished/hurt/yelled at. But a rescue has been quite different than raising a puppy. Unlike Angelus and Storm, Shadow is more husband’s dog than mine so we’ll see how that goes. I’d be doing a few things differently but Shadow loves him more so he gets the responsibility too!

Just received his DNA test back. They say 100% husky. SO NOT TRUE. Yes he clearly has husky in him – I’d even buy a full 50%. But he is not 100% husky. No way. He’s too big (Angelus was big for a husky and this guy is about 12-15 lbs bigger, longer and taller.) If I had to guess I’d say German Shepherd or wolf based on his coloring, lankiness, length, love of swimming, and his one-person attachment. But oh well – he’ll just be a husky mix. ALTHOUGH husband just pointed out that the company does not identify wolf, coyote or dingo. SO…maybe husky is the only “dog” identified and he is part wolf which I called after his first 2 days with us.

The only real damage from his time alone was some minor door scratches which can be fixed and my poor, cute PJ shorts :( They had little squirrels on them so I think he really just likes to eat squirrels!