Monday, January 31, 2011


Before you pass from the light into the darkness, you must go through Thompson first.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Welcome to pillowland, a multi-color place with multiple soft spots offering comfort and pesky photographers.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reporting for doody: Twin Cities company expands into cat-box cleanup

St. Paul Pioneer Press 1/25/2011
By Richard Chin

When Mike Kuehn-Hajder bought a DoodyCalls dog poop pickup franchise in 2008, he thought something was missing.

Cat poop.

So in between visits to scoop up dog waste from Twin Cities back yards, the 38-year-old Maple Grove resident devised a system to relieve cat owners of pet toilet duties, too.

"It was something the industry needed," said Kuehn-Hajder, who worked in sales and retail management before starting his own business. "We as an industry weren't doing justice to all family pets."

He got his first cat poop pickup customer in October 2008, and since then he's continually refined the concept to the point that the DoodyCalls company recently rolled out the cat litter service that Kuehn-Hajder pioneered to its 35 DoodyCalls franchisees nationwide.

Marc Samson, DoodyCalls public relations director, said there's gold buried in all that litter.

According to estimates from the American Pet Products Association, cats outnumber dogs in the United States, 93.6 million to 77.5 million.

"Those stats are very exciting for us," Samson said.

Samson said DoodyCalls is the first big pet-poop pickup company to offer cat-box butler service. And Kuehn-Hajder is the guy who made it work.

"He just jumped in head first and said, 'I'm going ahead to do it,' " Samson said.

Kuehn-Hajder's program works like this: For a single cat, he'll start you out with three covered plastic boxes full of clean cat litter. You keep one box available to the cat at all times. On the day he's scheduled to make a pickup, you snap the lid over the dirty box, put it on the porch and pull out one of the clean boxes of litter for the cat.

At his truck, Kuehn-Hajder disposes of the dirty litter, cleans and disinfects the box, fills it back up with clean litter and leaves it on the porch.

It's sort of like an old-fashioned milkman service, but instead of bottles of fresh milk, it's boxes of clean cat litter. You don't have to be home; Kuehn-Hajder doesn't come inside the house. The third box of litter is kept as a backup.

It's up to the customer how often Kuehn-Hajder visits or how many boxes of fresh cat litter he provides. The cost varies depending on the grade of cat litter you order. The price starts at $11 for one new clean box per visit.

But Kuehn-Hajder said that if you really want a scoopless experience, you might order four fresh boxes a week and just replace the boxes every few days instead of scooping. For his mid-priced clumping litter, that would cost $27.

For that money, Kuehn-Hajder promises that you no longer have to buy and haul home your own litter, scoop poop or scrub out the box.

"It's totally worth the money," said Minneapolis resident Caprice Bart.

Bart, a 42-year-old server in a wine bar, said that since getting the cat litter service six months ago, she no longer is nagged by the thought of a dirty cat box that needs to be cleaned or the cat litter that she forgot to buy.

"I don't like buying a 50-pound thing of cat litter and schlepping it upstairs," she said. "We don't have to do the sanitizing of the litter box in the winter in our bathtub. That grosses me out a little bit, frankly."

When she has told her friends about the service, "they kind of look at me like, 'What, you don't clean up after your own cat?' "

But the house smells better, and cats Kermit and Norma seem to like it. Norma seems to be hitting the litter box more accurately than before, Bart said.

"We just trade out the boxes, and it's like magic," she said. "It's the greatest service I ever signed up for."

Maplewood resident Michele DeMarre said she picks up after her dog, but she hired Kuehn-Hajder for cat litter service for her four cats. DeMarre said her son is assigned to do the between-visit scooping and he carries the litter boxes to and from the door.

"I don't do anything but pay the bills," DeMarre said.

Kuehn-Hajder said he's still perfecting his system. A custom cat box, a cardboard liner with odor-absorbing baking powder and special cleaning and pickup vans are possibilities, he said.

"Some people are like, 'C'mon, it's a litter box,' " he said. "But the odor... ." In his opinion, cat litter smells worse than dog poop.

But he thinks the business potential smells sweet.

Kuehn-Hajder said that so far, he has fewer than 100 litter box customers and they make up about 20 percent of his customer base. But he thinks that by the end of this year, his cat customers will outnumber his dog clients.

"No one else is really doing it like we are," he said.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering Mr. Max

Inspired by the Island Cats tribute to the original Island Cat, Scooter, I thought I'd post my tribute to the late great Mr. Max who passed away eight years ago...

Monday, January 27, 2003

Old Owed Ode
"A dragon lives forever but not so little boys/Painted wings and giants' rings make way for other toys/One gray night it happened Jackie Paper came no more/And Puff that mighty dragon he ceased his fearless roar"

I'm writing this less than 24 hours after having to make the decision that the next breath was too painful for Mr. Max to endure and his quality of life was likely not to improve much. I choked back the tears as I looked into his eyes one last time as the vet administered an overdose of an anesthesia as Max gasped for air. We had one last week together at home after he spent a week in the intensive care unit, and specifically in an oxygen cage/tent as a fluid in his lungs that was diagnosed as cancerous meant his time was very very limited. (The first time I visited him in the ICU he was facing away from me and as I turned him around there was a tear in his eye. The vet reassured me that it probably wasn't from pain or sadness but an effect of the extra oxygen. Still I was devastated)

I brought Max home thinking we might have a night or two left together. I was lucky it was a bit more. The first night back I stayed up and watched his every breath and couldn't help but think of the past 12 years we spent together. He was weak and food, his lifelong love, no longer interested him so I had to feed him through a tube in his nose. Away from the stress of a foreign environment his breathing did indeed get better and there was even one evening while he was lying on my chest that he began softly purring.

We had an extra week. But I knew I was postponing the inevitable. And now he is gone.

I don't want to turn this into an ode for a beloved pet because I've done plenty of that in the eleven year history of this publication. Every pet owner thinks their pet is special and though I like to think Mr. Max had an idiosyncratic personality unlike any other, he was a cat and he did cat like things. He liked to lay in the sun and minus that he would sleep most the day by a heating vent. He loved two things- he loved his meals and he loved having his belly rubbed. He fascinated me. He amused me. He educated me. He kept me company. He comforted me. Now I have to find the way to go on with just his memory inside and not the warmth of lying next to him each and every night.

"His head was bent in sorrow/Green scales fell like rain/Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane/Without his lifelong friend Puff could not be brave/So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave"

When I was a wee lad my parents gave me a collection of 45s. I played those songs over and over and though there were many I loved from "Yellow Submarine" to "Funiculi Funicula" from "I'm a Lil Teapot" to "A Little Bitty Tear" my favorite without a doubt was "Puff the Magic Dragon." A dear friend (the one who was kindhearted enough to accompany me to the vet) has accused me of liking sad songs. At the risk of confirming her perceptive suspicions perhaps it all began when I played "Puff" over and over. The song is about friendship, about growing older, growing apart and eventually about loss. Tonight it is the only song I can listen to. Jackie Paper had his Puff, Sherman had his Peabody. I had my Max.

Every Saturday night for the past eleven years I have put together this newsletter. And while working on just about every newsletter Max would be off in the other room, looking out the window or sleeping in my bed. He would inevitably get up and decide he would check to see what I was doing. He would peak his head around the corner and usually saunter on over and hop up into my lap. Yeah it was hard typing with a drooling kitty between me and the keyboard but I didn't mind. I don't know how long it's going to take for me to stop myself from looking around the corner for my friend.

I already miss how whenever I got home Max would greet me at the door. Sometimes he would meow, other times if he was particularly hungry or anxious about the amount of time he was left on his own he would bellow. Other times he would look to see who was entering and seeing it was only me, nonchalantly turn and walk away.

At the risk of sounding like one of those old gray ladies living with 65 kitties I must say that Max was one of the best friends I've made on this planet despite the difference in species. He understood me to the extent that no matter the day I had or the phase I was going through or through my many different moods he knew just what to do to forever melt my heart. I treasured every moment and loved him dearly.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Same Old Nothing

Believe it or not, both Thompson and Theo are staring at the same old nothing. I guess looking at nothing is better than not looking at nothing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Camping Trip

The boyz's grandpa gave them this fancy tent for Christmas. Theo is the only one who seems to want to enjoy it from the inside, although by enjoy I mean he races in full speed, hits the brakes and then immediately turns around and runs out... Diego-san on the other hand prefers to pretend to be the big bear outside waiting to scare the campers inside the tent...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kilroy was Here

Thompson isn't sure why every time he sits this way I call him Kilroy.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Members Only

I stumbled upon a house meeting. I guess my invite got lost in the mail.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fourth Degree Look

I was home later than usual one day last week because I had a meeting near my house and it was more convenient to not make the drive to work first, and then have to back track. I couldn't believe how cold the house felt. The furnace is programmed to heat the house at 60 degrees when I'm not home, 64 degrees when I am home. Those four degrees sure make a difference...

No wonder Diego-san has been giving me the "hey geek boy, it's time to open up your wallet and heat this place" look. It worked... I did decide to bump up the temperature to 62 degrees when I'm not home.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Theo at Dusk

Once in awhile a thought or two does pass between Theo's ears...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Honest Abe" Thompson

No, Thompson hasn't grown a beard. He's just found that Theo's belly is a good spot to rest his head.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


When it comes to perching, Diego-san has to rank among the all time best.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brave New World

We moved some furniture around just to change things up a little bit. Theo seemed a bit concerned about the new arrangement...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I swear Diego-san does stuff just to get his photo on the blog...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guitar Hero

I'm taking guitar lessons. I've been diligent in practicing a little every evening when I get home from work. Theo isn't quite sure why he's being so punished...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Diagnosis This

I woke up with a sore arm this morning. It felt like a 14 pound bowling ball had been sitting on top of my arm all night long. I couldn't imagine what caused this discomfort, so I asked the 14 pound Diego-san if he had any ideas... He hadn't a clue.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Thompson likes to keep his ear to the ground to ensure he keeps up with all the latest scuttlebutt.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Got My Eye on You

Theo likes to keep an eye on Diego-san. And it's extremely exciting watching Theo keep an eye on Diego-san. It's at the very least as exciting as watching paint dry...

Monday, January 10, 2011


All three boyz make a vocal appearance in this video... Theo's squeak can be heard at the very beginning. Thompson's grunt then takes over and eventually Diego-san lets out his roar. It's just like when Charlie Chaplin made his vocal debut in "Modern Times."

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Look #351

This is Theo's 'I hear something in the kitchen... shouldn't you go and investigate, and since you'll be there, why not feed me too,' look.

Tasks A-Plenty

It's Saturday morning and we have a lot to get done around the house this weekend. Time to get started... Thompson? Thompson?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Look #482

This is Diego-san's 'I'm keeping an eye on you but don't expect me to be amused by anything you say or do,' look.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Hee Hee

Not sure why I find this one so endlessly funny. I laugh every time I see it...

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Furry Soft

Thompson likes soft places to lay his head and there's nothing softer in the house than his brother Diego-san. The problem is the rest of us also like to enjoy Diego's soft fur and there is only so much of him we can share...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Monday, January 03, 2011

Iron Cat

Theo has decided that my food smells more interesting than his food. Every Sunday I cook up a vegetable stir fry to bring for my week's lunch. Theo circles in between my feet when I'm chopping up the vegetables and he cries and cries to sample the food once the frying begins. Sorry little buddy, my lunch is my lunch...

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Ultimate Professional

Thompson already is practicing up for our 2011 holiday card photos.

Saturday, January 01, 2011