Aby-a Day – 25 Januari: Look at that Cadillac! (Fashion Friday)

We have been wanting to get a new stroller for a while now; the small brown stroller has been having problems with its folding mechanism, and Jacoby’s StrollerCat™ stroller is extremely difficult to fold, which we need to do when we travel by train or taxi. So, after looking around at cat shows to see what other people use, we had a bit of a Christmas splurge and upgraded to a Petstro Safari pet stroller.

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We picked it up last weekend and I assembled it on Monday. It’s been parked in the kitchen awaiting our maiden voyage to our first cat show of 2019 in Örebro all week. And even before taking it outside and trying it out for real, we knew it was perfect. It’s almost effortless to push, and the removable grooming table will come in wicked handy.

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Lorelai, Izaak and Alfred thought so, too. They have been playing on and in it all week.

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Tonight we tested it out for real. And it was AWESOME. Not only is it easy to push, but you can steer it ONE-HANDED! That was the biggest problem with both the brown travel stroller and Jake’s stroller – they were SO hard to steer one-handed. The brown one was so bad, we called it the broken shopping cart more than once.

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It’s also amazing in snow. We were a bit surprised that Örebro had so much snow (Skövde has barely any, and both towns are having similar temperatures), but the new stroller handled it like a champ.

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The new stroller also folds up really well…and if we need it to fold down flatter, the wheels are super easy to take off.

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Because, of course when we are on the train, the cats don’t stay in the stroller.

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They either sit together on a seat…

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…Or, if it’s Zak, on Björn.

Aby-a-Day – September 28: Boston has not forgotten Strollercat (Hipstamatic Monday)

Ever since my bicycle accident a couple of months ago, my bike has felt a bit “off,” so I finally took it to Urban Adventours’ bike shop to get it looked at.

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They have a really great bike shop, and it’s especially convenient for a city dweller. They’re open til 8pm Monday – Saturday, and they’re right on the Greenway near the Carousel, which is wicked convenient.

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They also do repairs for a reasonable price, which is brilliant considering their location and convenience. It turned out, I was right: the rear wheel needed truing and the gears needed tightening. I also got her cleaned and lubed, and the whole thing only cost me $50. But the best part came when one of the young men working there wheeled out my bike. “Okay, I just gotta ask…” he started.

“The front basket? Yep, it’s for a cat or small dog! It’s a Dutch-made – of course! – pet bike carrier.”

“Okay,” he said, “Because I have a cat, but he would just jump out.”

“Well,” I said, “There’s a leash hook right here, so it’s like a seatbelt and they can’t jump out.” He then asked if I’d ever taken my cat for a bike ride in the basket. “No…” I explained, “But he has a stroller, and he loves to ride in that.”

“Oh, okay, so he’s been outside and he doesn’t freak out?”

“Nope, he loves going out. In fact, we got on the cover of the Herald once because we rode the T with his stroller…” I started telling the story of that fateful Tuesday T ride.

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As I was relating the tale, the other guy working at the shop interrupted. “Wait…You’re STROLLERCAT lady!?”

“I…uh…yeah? Yep, that’s me. I’m Strollercat’s mom.” I gave him a blog card with a photo of Jake in his stroller.

“OMG!!! I can’t believe I’m meeting Strollercat’s person! OMG!” Then he texted someone. “I have to tell my friend, she’s going to DIE.”

At that moment, a young woman came in with a bike. “Hey, I just texted you! You know who this is? This is the woman wit Strollercat!” And the girl was also very impressed and happy to get a card.

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It kind of blew me away…I mean, that was almost three years ago, and people still remember it. It’s almost like Jacoby and I have become a Boston urban legend!

Aby-a-Day – April 19: Bicycle built for two

Jacoby’s big birthday present this year was a DoggyRide Cocoon bike basket/carrier from DutchDog Design.

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Not that I really have much call to take Jake places on my bike, but with this carrier, I can take him places on my bike. When I was in high school, I built a bike seat for my Siamese mix, Sgt. Pepper, which I named the “Pepper Shaker.” We went for a lot of bike rides back in Davis…but I haven’t tried to take a cat for a bike ride since.

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We’ve come a long way since the 80’s when it comes to bike pet carrier technology, I’ll say that. Of course, DutchDog Design is based in Holland, where people ride bikes everywhere to do everything. I read a lot of reviews, and this particular carrier seems to be the best-rated and best-designed bicycle pet carrier. It also doubles as a regular bike shopping basket.

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Jake was very interested in the box when he saw it.

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Jake also also really likes my bike.

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See?

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But does the fact that he likes the box and my bike mean he’ll like riding in the carrier?

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Well, he seems to like it just fine.

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I just put him in the basket, and he just sat there, enjoying the view.

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He didn’t even try to jump out.

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Even closed, there seems to be plenty of headroom in this carrier.

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“Okay, mom, I’m ready! Let’s go!”

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This basket seems really stable and secure. There’s a leash inside, of course, to prevent him from jumping out while we’re moving.

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Although it’s primarily designed for small dogs, it’s a shape and size that seems to really appeal to feline sensibilities.

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So I don’t know when, but someday we’ll go for a bike ride together using this carrier…

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Always closed, of course!

Other People’s Tabbies: A west-coast Strollercat?

Abyfriend Talia pointed this out to me today: MuniDiaries, a blog about San Francisco’s public transpo system (Muni), posted today about a suave mackerel tabby riding Muni in a red and leopard-print stroller!

I love this a lot because I used to live in San Francisco, and I know the love-hate relationship that the denizens of the City have with Muni. And I’ve taken cats on Muni…albeit, not in a stroller, but it was…wow, 15 years, now, since I moved?

There seem to be a lot of cats riding Muni, like this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and especially this one. And this kitty isn’t even the first cat in a stroller on Muni!

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Who knew my old hometown was such a hotbed of public catness? Of course, maybe I did and that’s where I got it from. The cats in SF don’t even make Page 6, let alone Page 1!

Aby-a-Day – May 23: Taking care of business

Last Tuesday, Jacoby and I had another therapy visit at RISD.

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We took the commuter rail there, as usual, and it was an uneventful ride.

However, on our way back, we missed the MBTA commuter rail train (which freely allows pets) by two minutes – and the next train to Boston wasn’t for another 2 hours and 20 minutes! Not only that, but everything at the Providence train station was closed by 8pm. we were looking at almost two and a half hours sitting in an almost deserted train station!

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I noticed there was an Amtrak train to Boston due at 8:45. I know that, according to all the official rules, pets are not allowed on Amtrak at all. Still, the two hour wait was pretty daunting, so I asked if there was any way I could take Jake on the Acela. I was told that “Comfort Animals” (these are the words the Amtrak employee used) were allowed and as long as I had proof, the conductors couldn’t question it. I said, “Well, he’s a therapy cat, is that the same thing?” and she said, “He needs to be a Comfort Animal.” Ah, okay. Semantics it is, then.

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Well, we were actually in Providence for a therapy event, and we were all decked out in our therapy “uniforms” with all our tags and credentials. $40 was a small price to pay to save over 2 hours waiting in an empty train station, so we got on the train, and it was a great – and fast – ride.

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Of course we had Jake’s tank of a stroller, so there was nothing “stealthy” about our train ride. When I came on board pushing a big yellow pet stroller, the conductor started to say something, but once I showed him our ID badges, he was completely fine with us. He even waved us into Business Class! None of the passengers (mostly businessmen on their way home from meetings in NYC) seemed to mind, either.

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When we first got on, there wasn’t a seat next to the open space I could park the stroller. I was going to leave Jake in his stroller, but he didn’t like me being across the aisle from him. I took him out and let him sit on the seat next to me and he was completely fine with that.

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He settled in and rode quietly…

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…except for when he got up to look out the window!

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Later on, we moved to the single seat next to where we parked the stroller, and Jake had a little shelf all to himself.

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He liked that a lot, because he could see better from there.

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But I did find it interesting that the Amtrak ticket agent specifically said (and stressed) that “Comfort Animals” were allowed – she did not ever say “Service Animals.” The more you know…

Aby-a-Day – May 20: All aboard Amtrak (Hipstamatic Monday)

I’ll tell the whole story later this week, but last week Jacoby and I actually took the Amtrak Acela from Providence to Boston.

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It seems that Jake was born to ride in Business Class.

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It’s official now: Jake is a consummate train rider!

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Maybe now I should get him a little engineer’s outfit?

Aby-a-Day – March 5: “He loves going wherever trains are at” (Hipstamatic Monday)

Jacoby loves to ride the train. He’s been on the Commuter Rail a few times; we’ve gone to Mansfield and Providence for shows, and we’ve also met my husband in Natick for other trips. We also took a daytrip to Gloucester just for fun.

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He doesn’t like to be in his carrier, though.

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He wants to sit on a seat like everyone else.

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And he does sit so nicely, too. Sometimes he looks out the window, and he’s always interested in the train’s stoppings and startings.

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On the train home from Providence, we met the cutest little boy. He asked how old Jake was, and when I said he was almost three, the boy proudly told me he was four.

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He meowed to Jake, and he also took his photo with his mom’s phone.

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Of course, Jake posed for him! I told the little boy that I started taking photos when I was exactly his age, four years old, and I mostly took pictures of cats even then. And, I continued, I still take lots of photos, so he was starting on a long and happy hobby. I thought it was cool he wanted to take pictures of Jake. They weren’t bad, either. Kid’s got a good eye.

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I think it’s awesome that the MBTA allows pets on the trains, both the T and the Commuter Rail. It makes life so much easier. I wish Amtrak would allow pets, too. I would probably take it a lot more often if they did, since taking trains with a cat is so much easier than flying these days.

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And Jake really does enjoy it.

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He is truly the King of the Rails!

A 16-ring cat show that’s accessible by public transit? Sign us up!

Very exciting and last-minute development, everyone: Jake and I are going to a cat show this coming weekend! We’re entered in the TICA show in Providence, RI, which is very cool and very interesting for a number of reasons. First and foremost, since it’s in Providence, Jake and I can take the commuter rail to the show all by ourselves, like we did when we went to the Mansfield show back in August. The show is at the Rhode Island Convention Center, which is connected to the Westin Hotel (which is, of course, pet friendly) by a skybridge, and which is only a third of a mile from the Providence train station. So the logistics of doing a show without a car are covered very nicely.

The fact that this is a TICA show is really exciting. I’ve never been to a TICA show as a spectator, let alone an exhibitor, so it’s going to be a whole “brand new frontier” kind of experience. Jake, who is a Grand Premier in the CFA, will be starting out at ground zero as a Novice in TICA, so that makes it a little more interesting than going to another CFA show where Jake’s already in the upper echelon. Not that we won’t ever do CFA again, but it’s really kind of nice to be able to start over from scratch and become a Champion Alter in another registry. And, the thing that really got my attention is, this is a SIXTEEN RING SHOW! Most two-day CFA shows are eight or ten rings, twelve at the most, for both days, but this? This is huge. Sixteen rings is like two shows worth of judging.

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I have my TICA registration sorted; I will have to register Jake in TICA, but a cat is allowed one show with registration pending, and I’m already working on getting him registered. If I’m reading the instructions correctly, I just need Sherry to sign a copy of a three-generation pedigree and pay TICA $20, so that’s not too difficult.

I also checked in with Abyfriend Molly from Tigerflower, who checked her contacts and found a friend of hers knows someone who has an Aby who will be at the show. She forwarded me part of the email, which said, “I know Tammy, who is showing the alter she got from me, will be there. Dexter is number one alter Aby in TICA right now, but we will welcome competition.” So knowing there’ll be another Abyssinian there – a really good one – makes it even more interesting. I can’t wait to see how Jake does against the “best neutered Aby in the registry,” you know? And I love the name Dexter for an Aby! I wonder if he is a cereal killer..?

Not only that, but it appears that the TICA show is being held in conjunction with the 19th Annual Rhode Island Pet Show, so there’ll be a lot to see besides the cat show (assuming I have any time to go look at it, with eight rings a day).

(Note to self: There has got to be a cat show filk in there somewhere: “Eight Rings a Day”…)

I also got a good tip from Sheila Dentico of Abyroad on the Unusual Aby Yahoo group: she said she thinks two friends of hers are going to be there with a Cinnamon Silver Somali (try saying THAT 5 times fast!), so I’ve got another name to look for. And, wow…never seen a Cinnamon Silver anything in person before…oh, brave new cat association, that has such kitties in’t!

As it was explained to me: TICA shows typically have more rings than CFA shows, anywhere from 10 rings up. 16 is pretty high, but they are trying to max the number for the end of show season shows would be my guess. (The show season ends at the end of April.) The scoring for CH and Grand works rather differently, but they might hold a seminar to explain the scoring and the scoresheet in the catalog is not that hard to understand.

Also, all cats of a color/division/breed compete with each other, no separation by sex or title level at all. And the judge does NOT know what title any cat has achieved, so it is much more democratic. So even a cat that is not yet a Champion might get a Best Cat if it is really good.

Susan Graham, from Aksum Abys, who knows TICA well, sent me some information on scoring and also a really nifty Excel spreadsheet to keep track of any points Jake might earn this weekend. I love Excel, and I have a feeling that this will come in awfully handy!

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And, speaking of cat shows, I happened to find this photo from 1982 of my first “show cat,” Sgt. Pepper, who was a chocolate-point and white HHP. This is back in the Dark Ages before we had SurdiShelters and used bedsheets for cage curtains!

Big weekend with new frontiers ahoy!

Aby-a-Day – September 24: Homeward Bound

After the cat show two weeks ago, Jacoby had had enough of being enclosed. He was also tired of being carried. He wanted to walk and he wanted to see things, dammit!

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I know that it’s not the super-safest thing to do, any more than it’s okay to ride with a toddler on your lap, but it was either let him sit with me in the front seat, or hear about it from the backseat the entire 100+ miles home.

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I kept him on a short leash so that he wouldn’t bother my husband while he was driving, and as you can see, he was quite happy to watch the scenery go by.

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We don’t take very many car trips; living in the city, we tend to take public transportation more often.

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He was a very good passenger, too. He also rode in the backseat for a while, but he decided the view was better sitting shotgun.