Aby-a-Day – 8 April: Angel’s new leash (Fashion Friday)

I finally got Angel her very own leash made by my friend Sally at HiTide Creations.

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She’d been using Jacoby’s old one, but I really wanted to get her a purple one to match her collar.

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Like Jake’s leashes, it has some gorgeous, hand-made beads in colours that match the leather.

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It also has the adjustable handle that I designed, based on a leash I found when I went to Seoul, Korea. As a hand loop, it can be fastened to something, like the stroller’s handlebars.

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And like Jake’s leashes, it can be fastened around my waist for a hands-free leash. This innovation I came up with when Jake was doing therapy work. The first rule of therapy visits is “Never drop your leash” but sometimes that’s harder than you’d think. Having the leash around my waist means I never let go of the connection.

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Angel’s new leash looks so great with her Finnish harness and her new collar.

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She knows she looks great with her new leash.

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I can’t wait to take her out and test it once the weather gets better!

Aby-a-Day – 29 February: Walk and Roll (Hipstamatic Monday)

Jacoby has always loved to go out in the hallway of our building, but it’s been a while since he’s gone out there. This is due in part to the fact that we now live closer to the elevators, and there are more people around. But the other day, Jake decided it was time to take a walk.

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And, of course, a good roll on the hallway carpet. He’s always loved doing that, even now that we have carpet in our apartment.

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Apparently the carpet in the hallway is superior rolling material.

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He went back to the door of what was our apartment on the other floor, and gave it an affectionate rub.

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Then he was off again, trotting merrily along.

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Aby-a-Day – Rollin’ down the hallway (Miniature Monday)

These are a little blurry, because I took them while I was walking and pushing the cart…but they’re too cute not to share.

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Jacoby loves to ride the cart when I take it back downstairs, as you know.

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So the last time we took a cart ride, Jake’s mini-me came along too.

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Jake didn’t seem to mind sharing.

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In fact, he seemed to like the company.

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“Okay Mom, let’s go!”

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“Vroom, vroom!”

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For a brief moment, Jake’s mini-me even rode on Jake’s back.

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“Okay buddy, back down you go.”

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I think Jake is having as much fun with his mini-me as I am!

Aby-a-Day – January 23: Two heads are better than one (Photoshop Friday)

Yesterday’s post gave me an idea for a new Friday posting theme: Photoshop Friday. I’ll mix in with Friday Flashbacks and Fashion Fridays.

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So here is another photo of Jacoby and Angel riding on the cart. A lot of people ask me how I always manage to get them to pose so nicely. Well, the answer is, I don’t always get them to pose nicely. I take a lot of photos (and always have…you should have seen how much I spent on film back in the day!) and then end up deleting about half of them.

But sometimes, you get a situation like I had with several of the photos of Jake and Angel on the wagon, where one cat looked great and the other one moved their head just as the shutter went off.

As you can see, in this photo Jake looks pretty good, but Angel moved and, in the low light of the elevator lobby, she’s blurry.

And then in this photo, Angel looks great…but now Jake’s the blurry one.

So there’s two half-crappy photos. Combined, they’d make one pretty good photo. Which is what I did. Basically, I just put Angel’s good photo over her bad one, blended out the background and flattened the image down.

First, I copied a section of the background (the one where Jake is good and Angel is blurry). Using the cloning stamp (aka the “rubber stamp” since that’s what it looks like), I covered Angel up with the background carpet pattern.

Then I selected the good Angel and part of her background from the other photo and pasted it onto a new layer.

I also made a copy of the elevator and hallway background from the original photo and saved it to a second layer.

Finally, I made an extra copy of Angel’s foot and shadow, and put those on a third layer.

Going back to the Angel layer, I used a soft brush eraser to erase some of the background. I actually do the erasing with the background layer visible, so that I can see what I’m doing, but I’ve hidden it here so you can see the working layer clearly.

Using the rubber stamp, I removed Angel’s head from the hallway background layer, so that it became a clean background with only the walls around the elevator.

I erased the edges of the paw-and-shadow layer so that they blended into the background.

Once I’d gotten the three layers looking the way I wanted them to, I put them together. This is the Angel layer.

Now, with the Jake background layer turned on and the Angel layer placed over top, you can’t really tell that this was two lousy photos anymore. Well, you probably could if you blew it up to 800% and analysed the pixels. I didn’t really spend a lot of time on this, maybe 20 minutes, so it’s not a perfect job by any means…but it’s good enough!

Aby-a-Day – January 22: Storage cart built for two

As I’ve mentioned many times, Jacoby loves riding the storage cart when I take it back down to the closet on the first floor.

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One evening, Angel was nosing around the cart, too, and my husband said, “Angel wants to go, too!” and he put her harness on her so she could go with Jake (this was before Jake got his new green harness in the latest box from our friends).

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So Jake and Angel went for a ride to the first floor. Jake’s leash has clasps at both ends, so I just used the one leash for both of them.

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Jake’s leash has clasps at both ends, so I just used the one leash for both of them.

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Angel wasn’t so sure about riding on the cart at first.

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She seemed to adjust fairly quickly, though.

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This is where Angel fascinates me. Despite her harsh kittenhood, and her experiences that we can only guess at, in some ways she is clearly an Abyssinian.

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Wearing a harness and leash doesn’t faze Angel one bit, and she’s fearless in the face of things that would freak regular cats out.

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The elevator wasn’t any big deal, either.

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Even after we’d parked the cart back in the first floor storage room, riding the elevator back upstairs was taken in stride. I thought it was funny that they each chose a door…Angel on one side…

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…and Jake on the other. Even funnier, with all the elevator-riding that Jake does, he picked the door that doesn’t open on our floor (the side he’s on opens only to the street)!

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I find it endlessly interesting that Angel hisses and growls at Jake whenever he comes near her when we’re inside the apartment…

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…but out in the hallway, she seems to tolerate him fairly well.

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Even after almost a year, their first instinct was to head towards where our old apartment was.

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Angel moreso than Jake.

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Of course, when you’re both clipped to each end of a leash, it’s hard to get lost.

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They found our door easily enough in the end.

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Hi honey, we’re home!

Aby-a-Day – January 3: “Present” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Present.”

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One of Jacoby’s Christmas presents was a collar-mounted laser pointer from ThinkGeek.

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Jake loves lasers. If I make the “laser pointer sound” (mimicking the chattering he makes when he sees it), he will come running.

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In fact, he’s even figured out how to turn on the Dart laser toy by himself, so he can play with it whenever he wants (I just haven’t been able to get any photos of him doing it yet).

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It took him a little bit to get used to the idea that the red dot was kind of following him around.

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He needed to test it out a little before he really started playing with it.

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But once Jake got the idea…he was off! Watch him chasing the red dot!

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Up and down the hallway! What fun! This is the best present ever!

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After he got tired of running, Jake and his laser pointer took on the ultimate challenge…

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…The Christmas lights!

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Keep your eye on that red dot, Jake!

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Good luck!

Aby-a-Day – August 21: Forest hallway

I’ve been re-reading all the Warriors books recently (and cannot wait for the release of Bramblestar’s Storm next week), so my imagination is filled with cats in forests.

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They recently recarpeted the common hallway on our floor, and the new carpet is a lovely shade of deep green.

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The new green carpet along with the mahogany wood panelling almost makes walking in our hallway feel like a walk in the woods.

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The bricks are rocks, of course.

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So it’s not exactly ThunderClan’s camp in the ravine…but with a little imagination…

Aby-a-Day – July 27: Waiting for the wagon

I know I say Jacoby likes to ride on the cart when I take it back downstairs, but does he really like it, or am I projecting?

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Well, the other day, we used the cart to bring groceries up, and take some boxes down to the recycle room. And while I was putting groceries away, Jake was camped out on the cart waiting for me to take it downstairs.

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Impatiently waiting, if that look in his eye means anything.

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And once we were rolling…look at that happy head tilt!

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Now, is this a cat who doesn’t like to ride the cart? What do you think?

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And once we get to the recycle room, and then the elevator, he always seems a little crestfallen.

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He knows that his ride is almost over. Sometimes, he looks so sad, I take the cart the long way back, so he can have more fun.

Aby-a-Day – June 16: They see me rollin’… (Hipstamatic Monday)

Jacoby still loves to ride the cart when I return it to the storage room on the first floor after unloading groceries.

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The problem is that now, we live really close to the elevator. There isn’t much of a ride to be had.

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So we go the long way, down the back elevator (next to our old apartment), to make it more fun for Jake.

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Jake, of course, is quite familiar with elevators.

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He rides them all the time, both at home and when we go on therapy visits.

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If he weren’t so happy to be riding the cart, I’d say he was jaded. Look at that face!

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The downstairs hallway has fewer apartments than the other floors, because the machinery room, the gym, and the mailroom are on that floor.

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This means, I can run and push the cart really fast without bothering anyone.

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“C”mon, Mom – go faster! Vroom, vroom!”

Aby-a-Day – April 24: Recycle ride

Even though we no longer live close to the garbage and recycle room, Jacoby still likes to come with me when I take out the trash.

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We have this canvas basket that we use to carry the recycles to the bins. It sits by the door and collects the recycles during the day, and when Jake sees that I’m about ready to take them out, he waits in the basket, too. Obviously, I can’t leave without him if he’s in the basket!

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He just sits in there and waits for me to take him on a ride.

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I have never known a cat who loved to ride in and on things as much as Jake does!

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Curiously, he only likes to ride in the basket on the way to the bins, when it’s full.

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On the way back from the garbage room, Jake prefers to walk.

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He already knows where our new apartment is, too.

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Here’s our door! Let’s go in!

Aby-a-Day – March 11: Fly away home (Cartoon Tuesday)

Funny thing about cats is they know where they live. Until you move. And then, they know where they used to live.

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This actually happened first and most strongly with Kylie, but all the cats have run back to the door of our old apartment on our new floor at least once, including Angel (and of course, before we actually moved, Jacoby actually went into that apartment); I used Angel in this cartoon mainly because the way she runs is so funny I thought it would be a lot of fun to draw.

(Click cartoon to embiggen, or you can view all cartoons in Slideshow mode on Flickr.)

Aby-a-Day – January 11: “Door” (Saturday Photo Hunt)

This week’s Photo Hunt subject is “Door.”

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We’re moving to a new apartment in our building this month, so I’ve been taking Jacoby downstairs to our new door to get him used to it. He knows exactly which apartment is ours now, and runs to our door like a homing pigeon.

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We went down the back stairs to our new unit.

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Jake checked out our new door.

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We have bricks on one side of our new entryway! I hope Jake learns this landmark soon…

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I mean, he obviously feels comfortable here…

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But he did get startled by some young boys who live on our new floor.

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And this is a funny story: while I was taking these photos, Jake got so rattled by the kids making noise that he bolted! He ran as fast as he could…back to where our apartment is located on our new floor. The doors in our building lock automatically when you shut them, but if people are going in and out they tend to “soft-close” them so the latch doesn’t engage. This is something I do when I take out the trash and let Jake out into the hallway because I don’t want to bother with my key. And all the cats know how to push the door open enough to get back into our apartment if they want to.

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So, Jake raced back to our apartment…and, as luck would have it, the person living in that apartment just happened to have left their door open! Of all the apartments to leave their door open…it had to be the one that’s the same as ours! So Jake pushed his way in! I had to wake up the man who lived there to get Jake out of there…I felt so bad, because the guy was taking a nap and left the door open for his wife. I also wonder what Jake was thinking when he was inside the different apartment, because it didn’t look anything like ours!

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I just hope Jake learns where our new door is quicky after we move. If he keeps running back into that other apartment…I am going to look like such a crazy cat lady!

Aby-a-Day – July 14: Look who’s running in the hallway! And with whom!

Lately, a certain one-eyed girl has decided that she would like to explore the hallway in our building, too.

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Angel’s been out in the hallway before, but she was always very nervous and skittish, and she’d run back into the apartment as quickly as she could.

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But not anymore!

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Now, she’s running all the way around the hallway!

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She’s even hopping up on the windowsills of her own accord.

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But wait…is that another blur running alongside Angel?

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Why yes, yes it is. It’s Tessie!

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And instead of Tessie bullying Angel, they’re playing chase-and-stalk games together!

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And Tessie’s not the only one doing all the stalking, either!

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Just look at their body language. It’s pretty amazing.

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Angel is completely happy to play with Tessie, and Tessie seems relaxed enough to show her belly to Angel.

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A little headbutt…

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Look at Angel’s happy tail!

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This could be the start of a beautiful friendship…

Aby-a-Day – June 3: Home sweet hallway (Hipstamatic Monday)

As much as Jacoby loves to go on therapy visits, he also loves coming home.

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After we park his stroller in the bike room, he happily leads the way to our door.

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Even though all the doors look identical, he always knows which one is ours and he’s never wrong.

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Which is a good thing, because it’d be a little embarrassing if he went to the wrong door and then someone opened it unexpectedly!

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Before we can go inside, though, Jake has to do one of his famous carpet rolls.

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Okay, NOW we can go inside!

Aby-a-Day – December 7: Boot Scootin’ Boogie (Fashion Friday)

I have to say, I’ve gotten a lot of comments and questions about Jacoby’s Muttluks!

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Yes, he does keep them on, mostly. No, he doesn’t entirely love them (as you saw on Wednesday), but he appreciates them when he’s outside. There’s something about them inside that feels weird to his feet, apparently, as he gives his paws, ankles and wrists a good licking when he gets them off. And the boot seems to be especially bothersome on his right foot, which is the one he injured in his escalator accident*. I don’t see anything when I clip his claws (and believe me, I look for scars every time), but maybe there’s something about the inside of the boot that bothers that one foot.

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Even so, I can’t blame him for not loving his footwear; I hate wearing shoes and socks, too.

But for those who are interested, here’s a quick little video of Jake walking in his Muttluks:

You see? He does walk well in them when he’s got a definite destination.

* Speaking of Jake’s accident, I just read about a dog who had a similar accident earlier this year and lost two toes! Apparently, this happens to about three dogs a year in Boston…seems like it would be more heard of, doesn’t it?

Aby-a-Day – November 30: Muttluks (Fashion Friday)

A couple of years ago, during the off-season, I picked up a set of Muttluks for Jacoby.

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Since they were on super-sale (something like 75% off, as I recall), I didn’t have a choice of colour; hence the blue booties.

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Since last winter was so warm, and there was so little snow, we never had a reason to use them. I found them while digging out the cats’ Christmas stuff and figured we should give them a trial run before actually wearing them outside.

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This turned out to be a good idea; evidently, they take a little getting used to.

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The FAQs say that dogs (and cats) accept their Muttluks more readily when they have them on in the snow, but Jake was getting the hang of them before too long despite being inside.

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Although, perhaps the hallway wasn’t the best place to test them out, given his fondness for rolling on the carpet out there.

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The reflectors work well, though!

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A little more practice with the boots, and I think Jake will be all ready for a Boston winter. Muttluks were invented and are made in Canada, where they know winter; they’re like Sorels for the four-legged set.

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Now all we need is some snow…

Aby-a-Day – November 10: “The hallway of every man’s life is paced with pictures”

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here.

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Sometimes, a cat just needs to clear his head.

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Take a walk in neutral territory…

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…look out the window…

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…and get a different perspective on things.

Aby-a-Day – July 12: Anatomy of a roll

One thing Jacoby does that is so unique to him and so silly is his rolling on the carpet in our hallway. Part of it is just the way he does it: he’ll be standing there and then, all of a sudden, one shoulder drops and he just…falls over like a fainting goat. With my new camera, I’ve been able to capture the roll in action:

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Here’s another one:

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But the best one is when he rolls alongside the brick wall…

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He sort of rubs his side up against the brick (which I imagine feels nice and scratchy) as he does his fall-and-roll. He doesn’t really do this in the house; my theory is that his first home as a kitten at Sherry’s had carpet, and the hallway carpet reminds him of kittenhood. He’s always purring up a storm when he’s rolling, so he must have happy memories!