a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

It’s been 1 year since I adopted Smokey. He has 2 different birthdays (Feb and March) on his old vet records so we don’t know when his actual birthday is or his age (2 different years). So this means I am using his adoption date as his birthday and I decided on his age (6) :)

On January 27th 2014, my ex and I went to look at 4 dogs, all available through NorSled (where we adopted Shadow.) I brought them with me so we could see how Shadow interacted with the dogs. He was going to have to be friends with him (or her) so best to have him help interview too!

Smokey was the first dog we met as he was in the Woodland area and the rest were in the bay area. So we met him on the way down. When I walked in and met him and hung out with him for a short time, I instantly loved him. He was not black & white, like all of the others I was going to see that day and he was not as fluffy as Angelus and Storm or Shadow and we had no idea of his mix beyond husky and/or malamute mix. But he was the sweetest guy ever. I left there to go look at the others to make sure I wasn’t just taking the 1st dog I met since losing Stormy in August but I knew I loved him.

Met 3 other fantastic dogs who were all gorgeous, lovable, sweet and needed homes but Smokey stayed in my mind. So after all day of driving and meeting dogs and foster moms and dads (and frankly I think Shadow was getting stressed thinking he was being dropped off somewhere!), we decided to stop and eat for the 1st time that day. Buffalo Wild Wings. Mmmmm.

I sat there thinking how would I feel if I drove home and didn’t get Smokey – and I felt immediately sad. So we called the foster mom and told her we were coming back to see him again – this time letting Shadow have more time with him. We took Smokey and Shadow for a walk along with the foster mom – who I think was sad to lose Smokey (she was originally going to keep him but that didn’t work out for non-Smokey reasons).

That was it – I decided then to do it. Signed all of the paperwork, wrote a check and loaded him in the car. Had Shadow in the backseat and Smokey in the back back. I think Shadow was starting to wonder what the heck. But he did get along best with Smokey as well. I think he was most happy I didn’t get the girl husky as she was half his size but kept kicking his butt as female huskies are likely to do!

First night in his new home!

First night in his new home!

Got home around 11pm. Smokey was pretty stressed – obviously. New house after stranger took him away from his mom of 11 months. We woke up 3 or 4 times during the night. I was worried he had to go potty, but I think he just wanted to walk back to his old house.

It took a few days for him to calm down a little and settle into a routine but I’m good at routines :) Angelus and Storm trained me. He still gets stressed when his routine changes. But he has settled into a pretty darn calm and happy guy :) And honestly, he has been a dream. How anyone could have not wanted to keep him (and hurt and abandon him) is beyond me. He had gone through several homes and all this proves to me is that people generally suck and most probably have no business being responsible for a pet rock. But I’m a wee bit cynical.

After losing Angelus and then Storm, I was pretty sad for a time there. Now, I am happy literally every day. And I hope he feels the same way. I’m pretty sure he does. :)

His 1st snow! 1/30/14

His 1st snow! 1/30/14

1st beach visit at Mavericks! 2/14

1st beach visit at Mavericks! 2/14

Full of smiles :)

Full of smiles :)

Snow fun with Shadow 1/15

Snow fun with Shadow 1/15

Happy Birthday Smokey Dokey :)

His daily adventures can be followed at http://packdog.com/smokeydokey

And anyone can donate to NorSled. These people work endlessly to find northern breeds homes from bad (and sometimes VERY bad) situations and need every penny: http://www.norsled.org/how-to-help/

One year ago, 8/2/13, I lost my buddy Stormy. Stormn. Stormn Norman. Hoth Stormtrooper.

I still miss him every day. I still think about him every day. He was my little guy with the biggest heart. He could be a little punk, but loved people. And loved attention. And loved his momma. And people loved him. He brought joy to a lot more than just me. And I know that.

But I do still miss him (and his brother) every single day. And some days are sad. But I cannot help but smile every time I look at his little face :)



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

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

Storm and Angelus on bed

That seems very fitting. Angelus loved the snow. Even more than he loved chicken. And that was a lot :)

Took Shadow out in the fresh snow this AM. He was FIRED UP!! Run, run, run, stop, eat snow, run, run :) Hiked uphill as it continued to snow on us and I took a gazillion cute pics of him having fun.

Then I got a weird feeling. Looked around, didn’t see anyone or anything but just felt weird. Ran to catch up to Shadow and BAM – slipped on some ice and down I went. Darn it. I know better. Luckily experience has taught me to twist a little so didn’t land on my tailbone and my arm took most of it. Shadow immediately ran up to make sure I was OK (or see if any of the cookies fell out of my pocket…) and I put his leash on.

Not 30 seconds after his leash was on we see 2 coyotes. Whew. Shadow would have taken off to play with them for sure! Score 1 for listening to gut feeling!! If only I could apply that more to my trading account.

Started heading back down the hill and get allllllmost home and decide to cute pic of Shadow. My phone?! Not in pocket?! Oh….good…I bet it’s right where I fell and IT fell out of my pocket instead of any cookies! Shadow failed to mention that…

Let’s go back buddy. He looked at me like “what?? back uphill??” We charged back up the hill quickly as I was imagining my phone being buried in the still falling snow and falling victim to the dreaded water damage. Found it! And it worked and seemed perfectly fine. Whew.

Back down the hill we went and Shadow got more crazy running time. I let him off leash again as we got closer to the house and away from where the coyotes were. Got home and he didn’t even run straight to the kitchen for breakfast! Fed him and he went right to the deck door and looked at me with pleading eyes “let me back in the snow LadyMom.” OK…and he fell right asleep as he was being snowed on.

Successful snow morning mission!


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.

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.



Today on our afternoon husky walk, I let the buds off-leash on the low tide beach to play with a couple of dogs. They were running around and chasing – including Storm! As the woman whose dogs I thought they were walked closer, I recognized her as the Mom of 2 border collies who I used to see pretty much every morning at the beach. Both of her dogs died awhile ago but I would still her on her walks. So when I saw her with these dogs, I thought she got some new pals. Turns out these 2 weren’t her dogs, but a guy on the beach on his phone and she was just petting the dogs.

The woman approached me a bit cautiously and I thought “you don’t recognize us??” We had talked quite a lot after her dogs died and also after Storm got sick. She got closer and had this huge smile on her face. Turns out she recognized me and Angelus but for a little bit thought I got another grey and white husky because she didn’t recognize Storm, but was nervous and sad to ask. She could not believe how good he looked and how fluffy he was again, and running around playing!

I updated her on Storm and then Storm took off after the other 2 dogs so I had to chase him down. When I got back, she was talking to a woman with a border collie puppy (squeeee – puppy!) and had already told her Storm’s story. She and her husband were fawning over the huskies and saying how remarkable Storm’s story was. Not exactly sure what was told to them but that was nice. Although the huskies could care less about the attention. They are funny guys.

They continued on their walk and this woman (CarolAnn like in Poltergeist – I remember that one even though I’m typically horrible with the human’s names) started saying her good byes. Turns out she came down to the beach because today was the anniversary of her dogs deaths. One was 3 years ago today and the other 2 years ago today. Eerie. She said she wanted to come down to one of their favorite walks to connect with them again. And she was going to go home and watch a few short videos she had of them. Yikes. That made me sad. Sad for her. Sad for the eventuality of loss.

But then she smiled super big again and said that seeing Storm so healthy and happy again made her heart full and very happy for us. She walked away with tears in her eyes but a smile on her face.

Good boy Stormy :)

Today started with some stress. Just usual stress, nothing unusual. Storm did want to go on his walk, but didn’t really want to eat breakfast. No big deal except he didn’t really want much dinner either. Although he did eat his previous night’s dinner since I bought him some McDonald’s cheeseburgers. But he can’t really eat those every day!

Pretty much every day I have husky stress. I imagine this is how it is for people with human children. Yikes. It’s back of the head stress. Like you are always worrying, wondering, etc. Not forefront of the brain crying stress. But it’s always there. Stormy has been a trooper. He has gone through so, so much in the last 2 years. It’s truly not fair. But he does it with a smile pretty much every day. And he is doing really well! And I know that every day since his 2nd surgery is a blessing. It’s funny when he goes in for his check-ups – the doctors, nurses and admin staff are all so happy to see him. He is a smile maker :)

But the past couple days he has seemed a bit down. This stresses me out. Even though he has been growing his fur back at a crazy rapid rate! And I know this actually burns tons of calories (when huskies blow/re-grow their coats) so it’s no wonder is seems more tired! And he looks so cute! And happy and healthy! We get stopped on every single walk by people who ask if he is a puppy or (if they see us regularly) who comment on how awesome he looks. What a bud.

So after our walk this AM, I went to the pet store and bought a new dry dog food. He has eaten the same brand for 9 years. It’s one of the kinds they feed the mush teams on the Iditarod. Angelus loves it and Storm always has. But after his tummy issues on his cancer meds, he has been a very finicky eater. Which is so, so weird for Storm. Storm has always been a vacuum. So I make him chicken, steak and cheeseburgers every night. Mixed with his dry food. And I’ve tried different flavors of our brand and then different brands. He nibbles at them a bit but never really eats much of them. But I realized he loves his lamb and rice cookies so figured I would try a simple lamb and rice dry food. of course, there are different variations and brands and do I buy the fancier brand with all holistic (of course only made in the US), etc etc. So I was in the pet store for like 30 minutes debating.

He does eat his treats with excitement so I don’t think he has any tummy issues anymore now that we took him off his chemo. But I need to make sure he gains weight. Which means he needs to eat!

So tonight when I gave him some chicken with his new dry food (Nutro Lamb and Rice) and he ate it – actually started eating his dry nuggets and not just the chicken with melted cheese. And didn’t require to be hand fed! I was so happy :)

It’s weird how settled my own body (and soul…and brain) becomes once I stop stressing for a minute. Stress is a killer. This is for sure. So the huskies and I need to keep each other calm :)

Tonight…I am calmer. The huskies are sound asleep – Angelus is racked out on the deck and Storm on his bed with feet in the air. Pretty sure they are too. He wanted to go on 3 walks today! Plus I think he likes when he gets to hang out at home with his Mom, and it’s sunny out. He very much prefers Mom’s new schedule. Such a funny husky that likes the sun! But no denying he is much happier today.

Who knows how we (Royal We) will feel tomorrow. But we all are happy, calm and stress-free tonight :)

A 1.5 hour walk to & around beach this AM. A 30 minute neighborhood jaunt this afternoon. And then an evening trip to Mavericks for much off-leash fun and play with other doggies till almost dark.

Now I have 2 huskies happily sound asleep.

They like Mom’s new schedule :)