The Move

We made it!! On February 22, my son and I moved all 7 animals in two trips.  We started with the indoor boys of Jake, Marvin and Cisco and progressed to the former outside boys of Shadow, Stellar and Hampton.  Misty our dog was also in the second round.  All in all it went fairly smoothly, but it was certainly stressful.

The morning of the move, I had light sedatives to give to Jake, Marvin and Cisco and then something a bit stronger for Shadow, Stellar and Hampton.  Everyone easily took their medication except Stellar.  I tried everything, but I just could not get him to take the pill.  I did have some liquid Gabapentin that I eventually got down him.  Yet, it too was difficult too and I was not sure how much of it he actually took.  Of course the morning started off by raining which added to the stress.

Getting Jake, Marvin and Cisco into carriers was very easy.  They were all a bit loopy from the sedative.  The first trip which takes 50 minutes each way was fairly quiet with only Jake making a few sounds.  About half way there I thought I smelled something.  I wasn’t sure what.  Later I found out Marvin had thrown up all over the carrier and then he was covered in it.  The poor boy was not happy.  I had to get damp towels and clean him the best I could.  We had these 3 in my sons room where there was a cat tree, apartment and litter boxes.  Jake was so afraid that he refused to come out of the carrier.  Cisco and Marvin found the apartment and huddled together.  We were there about an hour and then decided to head back for the other 3 cats and the dog.

Fortunately the rain had stopped and traffic was not too bad.  Once back at the old house, I went to get Shadow, Stellar and Hampton into carriers.  I easily got Hampton, although he hissed and hissed at me once inside.  Stellar was next and he too went in easily despite not getting much of the sedative.  Shadow was the most difficult.  He hid under the love seat which forced me to turn it over.  I had a towel to catch him and some how managed to get him in without him scratching me.  He was not happy at all.  He hissed and hissed at me.  The ride there was super quiet.  Not one peep.  We almost forgot they were in the car.  Misty just slept as well.  Once again about half way there I smelled something.  This time I knew it was pee and suspected it was Stellar.  Once we arrived, he too had to be cleaned with a damp towel.  He was covered in pee.

In the new room for Shadow, Stellar and Hampton, there was only the apartment and some cabana style beds.  The movers were bringing the other cat trees and a love seat the next day.  Of course they had their litter boxes too.  All of them huddled in the apartment and seemed ok.  The doors heading out to the main room were glass.  I had covered 3/4th of the glass with paper so our movements wouldn’t scare them.  I also covered the door going outside.  I had left the bottom 1/4th open on both doors but soon had to cover it as well since they could see Misty as well as us walking around.  It was too much too soon.

The inside boys (Jake, Marvin and Cisco) were doing ok.  Yet, Jake was still so very afraid.  Marvin who I had expected to find a place to hide and never come out was doing so well.  He was exploring all around.  Cisco did well too.  The vet had given me enough of the light sedative to use for a few days if we needed.  The next day the movers would arrive and it was going to be loud and chaotic.  We did give them a sedative the next day.  Jake did not handle the sedative well.  He seemed more on edge and very spaced out.  Once the sedative left his body, he did much better and began to explore.  We allowed the cats to explore the empty house before the movers arrived.

On Friday, February 23, 2018, the movers arrived to the new house late in the afternoon.  Of course it was raining once again.  It took them longer than expected to pack up so they didn’t get to our new house until near 5 pm.  I had a feeling they would not finish that day.  It was a long hard day.  Lots of emotions and many tears.  I was sad to leave our old home and all of the wild life along with my neighbors.  Yet I was excited for the new house and the beautiful scenery.

The movers worked until 8 pm and then decided to resume the following morning.  I was glad to be done for the day.  I was both physically and emotionally exhausted.  All of the animals did very well that day.  We allowed Jake, Marvin and Cisco to come out that night and have some exploring time before going back to their room the next day.  All of them remained in someones bed that night!

The past 2 weeks seem like a complete whirlwind.  I went from mountains of boxes at my old house to mountains of boxes at the new house.  I needed to unpack as well as be sure all of the animals were settling.  Working with the animals takes lots of time, but is very necessary for a smooth transition.

I used Zylkene again on Stellar and Hampton and it really helped them both.  There were a few mornings that Stellar did not want to eat.  It was evident throughout the day that he had not consumed the Zylkene as he hid most of the day.  Shadow was mostly his same happy self.  Stellar did learn how to get behind the love seat.  I had done my best to block it with pillows, but he would just jump onto them and then dig a hole to hide.  I could not figure out a way to block it so I just pulled the love seat out from the wall.  They could go behind, but I could still walk back to get them if needed.  Shadow did take to following Stellar back there, but willingly comes out when I come to visit.

One of the biggest surprises has been Hampton and my husband.  Hampton likes to come and snuggle up against me, but doesn’t do much playing with me.  Yet, he loves to play with my husband.  This past week my husband was able to brush and pet Hampton.  He really seems to enjoy a man!  My husband says he has always wanted an office kitty.  Maybe Hampton will finally be the one!

Today is the first day I actually feel a bit normal.  I ventured out to run a few errands this morning.  The boxes are dwindling on the main floor and items are finding a permanent place.  There is still so much left to do, but I am feeling a bit less stressed.  I will say that MOVE is definitely a four letter word.  The process from start to finish was much harder than I anticipated.  Yet I am so happy that the animals seem to be adjusting.  Today I was able to use my wire shelving barrier and open the door so Shadow, Stellar and Hampton could begin to see and hear more of the comings and goings inside the house as well as see Jake, Marvin, Cisco and Misty.  I hope to continue this several times each day.

Here are a few pictures

The new room setup. There are also windows to the left and right.

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The boys snuggling at night.

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The boys before bed time. Hampton, Stellar and Shadow (left to right)

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Hampton getting pets from my husband.

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More pets for Hampton!

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Stellar

While living outside, Stellar was my most care free, laid back kitty.  I usually could call him home if he was within ear shot.  He would happily lope through the yard meowing to me.  Each evening he would want me to come out and visit.  He also loved to be held.  When I first started allowing him time inside the house, he was a bit uneasy.  Yet he followed Shadow’s lead and seemed quite content.  He would walk around, play and even settled in a cat bed for a quick nap.  My only concern on bringing him inside was that he was the wanderer.  He liked to go out for short jaunts at night and have his alone time (under the neighbors screened porch!) a few hours during the day.  I worried he would miss his freedom.

Since being inside, he has lost many of his endearing behaviors.  I can best describe him as dull.  The look on his face is dull, his coat looks dull and he moves slowly when I am around.  He no longer meows and he doesn’t want me to hold him.  He does eat well and uses the litter box just fine.  I can just tell that he is not happy.  During the day, he will sleep on the love seat or hide in the bottom of the apartment.  Many times when I would come in for a visit, he would not come out to see me.  At times I could coax him out, but I could tell that was not going to be in my best interest as he started to further retreat.

Before the mobile vet visit, he was starting to come out more and more often.  He would play a bit with a string and at night he and Shadow had some play time.  Yet, after the vet visit, he took 3 giant steps back.  He would face the inside of the apartment and not even look at me.  It was so sad to see.  Hampton of course was worried and he too thought he should hide.  Shadow was fine and remained happy and content!

I had tried Composure liquid max as well as Composure treats.  He refused the food I mixed the liquid into and did not like the treats either.  A friend ( hi Laura!) recommended Zylkene.  It is a calming supplement for stressful situations.  It comes in a capsule that can be pilled or opened and sprinkled into wet food.  It is tasteless.  I have used this on Stellar for 3 days now.  It is starting to make a difference.

The first day, he seemed calmer and slept on the love seat during the day instead of in the apartment.  The second day, each time I came into the room, he jumped down or came out to see me.  He wanted pets and brushing.  Yesterday was the third day and he did the same, but also started to play.  Another noticeable improvement was his relationship with Shadow.  They had always been best buds, with Shadow grooming Stellar many times each day.  Stellar just loved this.  Since being inside, I have only seen Stellar accept the grooming a few times.  Yesterday, Stellar allowed a 20 minute grooming session!  He and Shadow also had numerous play sessions during the night.  His eyes are still not fully bright, but I am seeing a brightening.

My plan is to continue using this daily until after the move.  I really want my sweet, bright eyed boy back!  I know this will all take time and each new adventure will cause some sort of a set back as it is the feral cat way.

Stellar

Stellar

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Step Two, The Vet Visit is Complete

I told the boys that this was a 3 step process.  Step one was to get inside the house.  Step two was the vet visit to be sure they were free of FELV and to receive vaccines.  Step three is the move to the new house.  Yesterday was the mobile vet visit.  I am just relieved it is over!

My original plan for the mobile vet fell through and I had to scramble a bit to find another one that I felt would work ok with the feral boys.  As far as vets go, I think I did very well in picking one out.  Dr. Molly from City Paws and her assistant were just fabulous.  They were very calm and patient and I would feel comfortable recommending them.

About 20 minutes before the appointment, I secured the boys in their carriers.  We had decided to use the bathroom right off the bedroom as it was well lit and a smaller space.  I did well getting them into carriers.  Hampton made some yowling and hissing sounds, but no one scratched or bit me!  When the vet and assistant arrived, we decided to try Hampton first as he seemed stressed.  Once inside the bathroom, the carrier was opened and they tried to get Hampton out.  He made a dash, jumped up on the sink and then flung himself onto the door.  He was just clinging.  The vet grabbed the bath mat and put it around him, but he was way up and she was not quite tall enough.  I was able to get a hold of him and pull him down.  We had him on the ground, but when trying to get a towel around him, he wiggled away again.  This time, he threw himself onto the shower curtain and then fell to the floor.  They were able to secure him at that point.  It was decided that sedation was the best choice.  Once he was given the sedation drugs, we left him in the bathroom to calm down.

We then had to do the exams and tests on Shadow and Stellar in their room.  Stellar went first.  Poor baby had peed in his carrier.  Yet, he was compliant once wrapped in a towel.  We decided to do the blood work first and then the exam and vaccines later.  Stellar tested positive for FIV.  Not a big deal for me.  The vet mentioned there is a chance he is only a carrier and I could do another blood test if I wanted to know for sure.  I declined as it just didn’t matter to me.  I already have one cat with FIV so adding another is not alarming.  Also Stellar is my most gentle kitty.  The rest of his exam went well.  His teeth looked good, his heart sounded great and nothing out of the ordinary!

Shadow went next.  He did manage to wiggle out of the towel, but I was able to retrieve him and he was then compliant for the rest of the exam.  Shadow tested negative for both FIV and FELV!!!  The vet was happy to see that his teeth are in excellent shape for an 8 year old boy!  His heart sounded good and eyes and ears clear.  Nothing felt odd on his physical exam either.

By this time, Hampton was moderately sedated.  He was very calm.  His blood test was done first and he too is negative for FELV and FIV!!!  What a relief.  He did have a bit of plaque on his teeth and the vet actually scrapped a bit off!  Otherwise he was also deemed healthy.

After the visit, I was beyond relieved, but also mentally exhausted.  I was nervous and worried about how the boys would react and I also so wanted to be sure they were free of FELV.  It took me awhile to calm myself and prepare to move forward to the last step!

Before allowing them out of the carriers, my husband and I were able to remove the large dog cage and one of the cat cages from the room.  They were taking up a lot of space and not being used at all.  It was good to get them out of the way.

Last night, all of the boys were quiet.  They each did eat a bit of dinner.  During the night, they mostly slept.  At breakfast time, only Shadow and Hampton were waiting for me at the door.  Stellar was still on the love seat.  They all came over for breakfast, but Hampton only ate a few bites, Stellar would not touch it and Shadow only ate a tiny bit.  I tried some other food, but no one would eat.  After a few hours, Shadow ate a normal meal.  It is now mid afternoon and Hampton and Stellar are still hiding in the apartment and will not eat.  I am trying to determine, if they are still quite stressed from yesterday and/or having a mild reaction to the vaccines.  I am hopeful they will be better tomorrow.  I always say that when working with feral cats, it’s one step forward and two steps back.

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More updates

It has now been over 4 weeks since the boys have been inside.  All in all they are doing quite well.  Yet since they are feral cats, it is still one step forward and two steps back at times.  One of the best things is not having to go outside numerous times each day in the cold and snow.  Our January has been a cold and snowy one.  I do not miss clearing the deck or braving the cold.  I do believe the boys are realizing what it is like to be in a continuous warm environment.

Shadow continues to do the best.  He is one happy boy.  He loves for me to visit and get pets, treats and play time.  He is quite comfortable in his surroundings.  Rarely does he even jump onto the apartment or cat tree to look outside.  He also has bumped his status and is now more of a leader with Stellar and Hampton.  Outside, Shadow was more meek and easily pushed aside.  Hampton would often push Shadow out of the way to get my attention or to steal Shadow’s food.  Now Shadow is standing up for himself and pushing back!  This is so good to see.

Stellar is definitely one step forward and two steps back.  He has days when his facial expressions are dour.  Outside, he used to meow to me over and over.  He has yet to do this inside.  Some days, he decides to come out of his shell and will run all around the room and play.  He has even played some with my husband.  Yet other days, he hides in the bottom of the apartment and just wants to be left alone.  Fortunately at nighttime he is up and about the room.  He will watch outside as well as play with toys and Shadow.  He is frightened by our dog when she is outside of the room as well as other loud noises in the house.  When he gets spooked it sets off a chair reaction with Hampton.  The two will huddle together for hours.  I try to focus on Stellar’s happy days and know that it will just take time and patience.  He was the wanderer of the group so inside life is hardest for him.

Hampton is doing much better.  He comes out to greet me 90% of the time.  He likes to snuggle up against my legs and he loves belly rubs.  He likes to play as well.  It is somewhat new to him since when he was outside and I would bring out interactive toys, he was often afraid of them.  He is learning all about them and watching Shadow carefully.  Hampton also came out one night and played some with a feather wand with my husband.  This was huge progress for Hampton!  Of course he still loves to eat.  He eats very quickly and will then try to eat Shadow and Stellar’s food too.

Speaking of food, I have greatly reduced their amount of dry food.  They used to get a large bowl of dry food that was left out for them during the day.  Now I give them 1 T.      3-4x each day.  I really want to get rid of all of the dry food, but for now I give them small amounts.  Once we get moved and they are more adjusted I will start switching them to the home cooked food I serve my other cats.

I called last week to set up the mobile vet visit.  I waited a few days and did not receive a call back.  I also sent an email with no response.  I called again and this time, the phone had been disconnected.  I was most unhappy.  I had spoken with the vet in early November and the website was still in operation.  It is too bad that they did not update the website or have the decency to call me back or respond to my email.  Columbus Vet Care still has the website up and appears to be in business.  My hope is that it was not meant to be and the new service I found (City Paws) will be a better choice.  The visit is set for Tuesday, January 30.  I am so hopeful the boys will not need to be sedated.  Please send good vibes for an easy vet visit, with negative results on the SNAP test for FIV/FELV.  I will update on the visit next week.

One of the things I am having a hard time with is leaving the deer family.  It seems that each time Gimpy comes around, I start to cry.  She has been a fixture in my yard for years but it’s been the past 4 years where she has developed a bond with me.  I have some neighbors who said they will take pictures of her for me.  I will so miss seeing her fawn(s) in the spring.  Big Mama and family will be greatly missed too.  I so wish I could bring them all with me.  I hope the new owners of our home will welcome them.

Deer family

Gimpy, Gadget, Wobble, Wendy, Willy and Big Mama

The move is quickly approaching.  I feel like I am living in chaos.  There are boxes in many rooms and pictures being taken off walls.  I am trying to do a bit of packing each day.  Jake, Marvin and Cisco appear to be doing ok with the mess.  They don’t like to be around when I am packing, but I think they are getting used to the boxes and mess.  I have all of their toys and cat trees still in place.

Here are a few pictures of the “upstairs boys” from the past week.

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Shadow playing

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Hampton and his belly time!

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All 3 playing.

 

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Two weeks and counting

Happy New Year!  It was just 2 weeks ago today (December 26, 2017) when I brought Shadow, Stellar and Hampton into the house.  The time does seem to be moving quickly.  For the most part, the boys are doing very well.  They do have their moments when they are afraid and retreat, but each day seems to see a bit of progress.

I will highlight a few of the highs!  Each morning, I am greeted at the gate by all three boys!  This is just like when I went outside to feed them.  Hampton is front and center with Shadow and Stellar a bit behind.  They are excited to eat and clean their bowls each morning.  I always left them bowls of dry food outside during the day.  Shadow was a grazer and didn’t always want to eat all his wet food right away.  Of course, Hampton or Stellar would finish it for him.  Now that they are all inside, Shadow is eating all of his wet food.  I only give them about 2 t. of dry 3x a day.  My goal is to completely phase out all dry food.  I was worried Shadow would have major problems with this.  Yet he is doing so well.

All three will engage in playtime at least once a day.  They are loving the da bird .  Simple string hidden under a blanket and then pulled is a favorite for all.  I also discovered the  da rat attachment to the da bird wand.  When I first attached this to the end of the da bird wand and began to play with it, Stellar was so excited.  Yet, when he caught it and put it in his mouth, he spit it out and retched!  It was the funniest thing.  He is used to real mice and rodents!  After a few days, they all warmed up to it.  My other 3 inside boys; Jake, Marvin and Cisco also like it.  Jake especially.  They also sell a mouse, but the rat is a bit bigger and moves about better than the mouse.

I decided that I was going to need to try and trim their nails.  I would like the mobile vet to do this, but thought it might be easier if I tried first.  I put Shadow on my lap and gave it a try.  I was able to clip 3 before he realized what was happening.  The next night I did 3 more.  I am not sure I will try again for awhile.  He was not happy at all. He ran off my lap, scowled and then hid for quite awhile.   I also did 2 nails on Hampton.  He might be more compliant later.  Stellar watched the entire event and hid immediately.  I decided it is best to just wait.

The apartment is the favorite furniture in the room.  They often are using all 3 levels at once.  Stellar and Hampton sit on the top at night and like to look out at the yard.  Shadow prefers the other levels.  It is odd that Shadow has no interest in looking outside.  He has jumped up a few times, taken a glance and then jumped back down.  He is definitely liking it inside.

Now for some of the lower points.  There really is nothing major.  They all seem to have days where they are low energy.  They choose to hide and not come out for play or pets.  They seem to feed off each other.  So if one is being reclusive, the other two decide to be that way too.  They are also adjusting to a new schedule. They are most active at night and like to sleep/nap during the day.  I am trying my best to visit them every 2-3 hours.  Yet some visits, they don’t even want to get up.

I have had my husband up to visit them a few times.  They know him from being outside on the deck and yard.  The first visit, Shadow came close to him.  The second visit  they all hid, but did bat at a toy.  It will take some time for them to adjust.  It usually has to do with his deeper voice and louder movement.  I remember that Cisco was petrified of him last year.  Now all is just fine!

I had major litter tracking in the room.  It was driving me crazy.  I had a litter mat under each box and another coming off each mat.  Yet, I was finding litter everywhere.  I have covered most of the vinyl flooring with throw rugs as the vinyl flooring was colder, noisy and litter pieces everywhere! I purchased a higher quality hand held broom and dust pan.  It works well, but I am still finding litter.  I researched and researched and finally found a litter mat that is working very well.  It is called My Doggy Place Ultra Absorbent Microfiber Chenille Dog Door Mat.  It was more expensive, but it is very well worth it.  I tried it for the first time 2 nights ago.  The litter was in the mat and not all over the floor.  They come in many different sizes and I can use these at our new home with the other litter boxes too.  When I read the reviews it did talk about using these as cat litter mats.  The price does seem to fluctuate on these.  I ordered last week and they were $10 cheaper.  I saw them in a local pet store and they were $50.  So Amazon is the place to find them.

All in all, I am really pleased with the boys progress.  They are so very quiet.  Never a yowl or howl, they use the litter box without any accidents and I never needed the large cages!  They are getting used to the sounds in the house too.  There is still room for lots of improvements, but small steps along the way is still great progress!

Here are a few pictures from the past few days.

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Stellar, Hampton and Shadow in the apartment.

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All 3 playing with a string under the blanket.

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Trying out the cat tree. Hampton up top, Stellar in the hiding box and Shadow below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 5

Today marks the 5th day, the boys have been inside.  I am very pleased with their progress so far.  Each day seems to get just a bit better.  You cannot imagine the sense of relief I have with all of them safely inside.  We still have many hurdles to overcome, but the biggest step has been taken.

The first night was rough, but the following nights have been much calmer.  I have not needed the large cat cages at all.  For this I am happy, but they do take up quite a bit of space in the room.  The boys are most active at night.  For the first few nights, this was the only time Stellar and Hampton moved around.  They waited until the house was quiet and then explored a bit.  Shadow was up and about day and night.  It was as though he was saying to me, “What took you so long to get me inside!”  I was worried about Stellar as he seemed a bit sad and wouldn’t come out to see me.  Hampton was quite far under the chair and not happy at all.

I tried my best to block under the chair after it was clear that Hampton and Stellar were not going to come out.  I also had to block under the love seat.  The chair was very difficult.  I thought it was secure, but Hampton managed to wiggle himself back under the chair during the night.  I decided it was just too hard to block Hampton from getting under, so I removed the chair and brought in a small cat tree instead.  This action forced Hampton and Stellar into the apartment.  They could still hide, but were more visible to me.  This worked very well with Stellar.  He started to come out when I came to visit or brought food.  Shadow was happy that his friend was out and about too.  Hampton was still not having any of it.  Yet, he would bat at a feather wand from inside the apartment.  Shadow and Stellar were eating well, but Hampton was only picking at his wet food.

My biggest surprise was the litter box.  Years ago I used to bring Shadow inside for short visits.  He learned how to use the litter box.  When I started allowing them time inside about 6 weeks ago, I would put out a litter box for Shadow.  He always used it.  Hampton and Stellar had no interest.  All 3 boys are using the litter boxes like champs!  There has not been one accident.  Shadow is very funny as he follows along when one of the others heads to the box.  It’s almost as though he wants to be sure they are doing it right!

The vinyl floor has been a good idea and a not so good idea.  I think it prevented them from using the carpet as a litter box, but now there is small litter all over the place.  It is kind of slippery too.  Yesterday I found numerous old throw rugs with rubber backing that I had saved.  They work perfectly scattered around the room.

This morning I had a wonderful surprise when Hampton came out of the apartment to greet me!  He ate all of his breakfast and seemed much more bright eyed.  When I went back to visit late morning, they all came to greet me and all three played a bit with the feather wand.  This was just what I needed.  I actually had a few tears of joy!

The timing of this has been perfect.  Our weather has turned terrible.  We had 4″ of snow last night and very cold weather is upon us.  Tonight it is to be in the single digits and then below zero the next few nights.  I do not have worry tonight about the boys being cold.  I certainly did not miss clearing off the deck, clearing off the shelters, making a path in the snow and going outside for feedings.  It is very odd to look out at an empty deck.  Hampton would always sit at the sliding door watching me prepare food.  It is so strange not to see him there.

Here are two pictures, one of Shadow playing and one of Hampton from this morning!

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Shadow having some play time.

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Hampton showing his belly.

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I Forget to Mention

Yesterday ( December 26, 2017) was the one year anniversary of Cisco coming inside.  I cannot believe a year has passed.  He is such a sweet big boy and we just love him to pieces!  His journey was a bit different as he was injured.  I am just so happy we decided to bring him inside.  You can read about his journey here .

December 26th will now be our official Inside Gotcha Day!

Happy One Year Cisco!

 

Cisco

Cisco

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