Meet the Quiltons

For someone whose parents never wanted animals in the house I sure seem to have had a veritable menagerie over the years.  I’ve had fish (like all Asian children, am I right?), rabbits, birds, and turtles.  These pets were are well and good, but none of them were very cuddly or particularly interactive which, as a kid, was what I wanted. In college, I toyed with the idea of cat, but was too nervous to take the plunge.

20141229_052203I blame T, my brother (younger), entirely for bringing these furballs into my life.  I was doing just fine until he moved in with me to attend the same university (OSU, Go Beavs!) and decided that what the house really needed was a cat.  We first began by borrowing his then-girlfriend’s cat since she spent quite a bit of time at our place. She ended up sending him back home to live with her parents (the cat, not T) so that ended that. Then summer came; T and I moved home for the summer which put the kibosh on all the feline talk, at least temporarily, I thought.

I don’t even know how it happened, but one minute we were discussing the possibility of getting our own cat next fall and the next were we at Petco where a local animal rescue, Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals, was holding an adoption event. As we ‘oooh’d and awww’d’ over all the quite frankly adorable little kitties, there was one that caught our eye, a little snowshow siamese housed with a flame point siamese.  For 2 half-Thai kids raised on Disney the chance to adopt a kitten with Siamese markings was pretty much irresistible. With strains of “We Are Siamese If You Please” drifting through our heads T and I heading over to investigate.  We had just decided to adopt the little snowshoe siamese when the lady who was running the adoption event piped up with “You know, they’re half-siamese and brothers; they’ve just been reunited today after being foster separately.  They were feral rescues with their mother…We’re running a 2 for 1 deal: if you adopt 2 cats you pay the fee for only 1…” She didn’t have to tell us twice: SOLD!!!!

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Quentin

Needless to say, my Father was NOT at all pleased with having to share his home with not the aforementioned one cat, but two; especially considering he’s allergic to basically anything with fur.  So, being the girl, I was elected to explain to my father how we came to have two kittens instead of one.  Luckily, I was able to hinge my entire argument on the fact that they were siblings.  My Dad, born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, moved to the US for graduate school and did not move back, so I was banking on this angle to help me persuade him that we absolutely had to take them both and that it would be cruel to separate them.

It worked like a charm. The cats were named Quentin and Milton, or the Quiltons, collectively.  The former name is all my Mother’s influence and the latter…Well, you can’t name a fellow Quentin and then give his brother a name like “Fluffy” can you? It simply wouldn’t do! And, as they were rather standoffish little chaps due to their early days as feral little kittens (something they’re never actually overcome), we felt they needed dignified human names at the very least.  It has always been a great pet peeve of mine when people name an animal after another animal (dogs or cats named Tiger or Bear, you know that type of thing) so humans names it is for all my furballs!

Milton

One thing that I love about the cats is their independence.  I mean, sure they like to snuggle come around for a good petting or brushing, but they don’t have the same need to always know where I am that Luna does.  The Quiltons are purrfectly content (I know, I’m terrible!) to find the comfiest spot in the room and laze the day away in a patch of sunshine.  I sometimes believe they just keep me on because it’s so difficult to find good help these days and I already know how to feed and clean-up after them so why bother trying to train another human? They simply look judgmentally at me when they feel I’ve made a poor decision…liking getting a dog.

They get along fairly well with Luna, although I do get the feeling that they feel I’ve made a grave error in judgement with her and that I’ve somehow lowered my intelligence in their opinion.  For the most part they try to ignore Luna, only hissing at her when puppy exuberance gets the better of her.  In fact, I’ve caught each of them laying right next to her at various times and a few times she’s even licked Milton’s head!  But overall, the Quiltons seem to have resigned themselves to Luna’s presence and simply watch scornfully as she does typical dog things like fetch or her crazy living room rodeos.

After 10 years of living together, we’re accustomed to each other.  They’re the resident Grumpy Old Men (with occasional competition in that area from K) and I am their humble servant who lives to cater to their every whim; Luna is, of course, the jester and K is there to do the heavy lifting :).  We’ve made it through university, moving, and health crises (theirs, not mine) together so I think we’re stuck with each other at this point; but you know, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Meet Luna

One of the main reasons I even began thinking of starting a blog was our dog Luna, the American Pitbull Terrier my boyfriend, K, and I got back in November 2013.

037This being my first dog (any experience with the species being limited to the extend family members who had them growing up), I immediately went into Research-Mode.  Those who know me can tell you this usually results in tons of information as well as multi-tab spreadsheets organizing said information into various charts/tables (with notes!) that are emailed to interested parties. I looked up anything and everything I could think of about how to raise a puppy responsibly: what to feed them, how to properly socialize them, what toys were they best, grooming, play groups, etc.

So, having done my homework, I set about making the requisite appointments with my veterinarian to have Luna checked out and begin with her vaccinations. Once at the veterinarian’s office we were informed that the puppy we were told was 8 weeks old was really probably only 5-6 weeks old when we got her and that she had a heart murmur. Wonderful. That last bit had me panicked and scurrying to back my computer for even more research.

Luna as a puppy

Luna as a puppy

The heart murmur eventually went away, but another concern soon surfaced. The fact that she is all white and has heterochromia (2 different colored eyes) raised a flag for me from the beginning since I know that all white dogs with blue eyes can have some issues (I did study biology at university, after all), but she seemed completely normal. As the weeks passed, however, we began to suspect that Luna may have limited hearing ability. She slept so soundly we sometimes wondered if she was still breathing and nothing ever woke her up except touching her when she was in her crate. She never noticed kids playing outside or other dogs barking unless they were in her line of site and she couldn’t track objects throw across the room unless she saw you throw them. By her 3rd or 4th veterinary appointment our doctor had determined that most likely Luna is almost completely deaf. The doctor explained that due to a lack of pigmentation that produced her white coat color, Luna had never developed the cells in her ears that would allow her to hear properly.

Luckily, K’s family had dalmatians growing up, one of whom was deaf, so he has some experience living with a deaf dog; I, on the other hand, was completely out of my element. I barely had any experience with dogs and now I had to train and socialize a deaf one?? You’re joking right? Everyone assured me it wasn’t that different from raising a hearing dog and they are, at least partially, right.

As I dove into yet another round of internet research I discovered a somewhat surprising lack of resources regarding what to do with a deaf dog. I could find websites, blogs, message boards, and forums for days on training methods for hearing dogs, but only a few good ones for deaf dogs.  Eventually, I found a few websites and groups that I felt were able to provide the information I was looking for and we began training Luna using hand signals.

The hand signal training is proving to be somewhat easier that I expected (although I really have no basis for comparison) and, while we’ve still got a long way to go, I feel like we’re off to a pretty good start all things considered.  Luna now knows ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’, and ‘Look at me’ which she dutifully performs at breakfast, dinner, and street crossings…provided there is promise of a yummy treat somewhere along the way.20141003_195741