Dr. Patty Khuly with Mambru

Grateful this year? Me, too. Let me count the ways — all 10 of them, to be exact.

It’s been a tough year. A big breakup, followed by the loss of my goat, Tulip, just two weeks ago, has given me some not-so-happy stuff to ponder.

And, sure, the economy is still in the crapper, putting a damper on everyone’s quality of life. But let’s be honest: Unless life has dealt you a truly horrific blow (and we all know the conditions that would qualify), most of us have little cause to complain. In fact, whether we have a legitimate right to grieve or not, we’d all be better off counting our blessings than licking our wounds.

With that sentiment in mind, I offer you this post, detailing all the wonderful animal things that I’m grateful for. (Note: For the purposes of this entry, I will spare you the sordid details of my nonanimal life. I’m sure you’ll be all the better for it.)

A Hen House Full of Eggs

Every single one of my 11 hens started producing eggs at full tilt this year. As of January 1, I was reaping six to 12 eggs a day. What a haul! Thanks, girls!

Lazarus Joins the Family

It turns out that suffering an adverse anesthetic event while being neutered isn’t always a bad thing –– not if you’re a feral kitten with no realistic off-the-street options. So when Laz experienced his near-death event, he could have ended up in the freezer (I know that sounds bad, but it’s an unfortunate reality). Instead, he ended up at my house, where he gets lots of love. Sometimes things just work out, you know?

Sylvester Bonds With Lazarus

It’s not always enough to find a great spot to live; finding a partner is arguably the most important feature of one’s personal landscape. So when Laz met Sylvester and a bond evolved, no one was more surprised  –– or elated –– than me. Sylvester’s lonely feral existence was vastly improved by the uncanny connection these two unlikely allies now enjoy.

A Cheesemonger Is Born

My cheesemaking abilities blossomed this year as my late Tulip’s milk production came on strong. When you’ve got so much milk, you’re never able to drink it all, so experimenting with cheeses makes for time-consuming fun. Lots of trial and error ensued, but my moldy St. Maure scored big points — even with those who claimed to detest goat cheese.

Tybalt's Happy Transfer

It didn’t start off as a good thing, but when my ex-boyfriend’s cat wouldn’t stop spraying the fancy furniture in his apartment, I offered to give Tybalt a new place to roost. Six months later, he’s the new love of my life.

Mambrú Settles in as a Sign-Over

I accepted this cat as a sign-over at least a month before Tybalt came to me. (By the way, a sign-over is when owners can’t afford a pet's care and we sometimes offer to care for him on our own dime as long as the individual relinquishes ownership.) And –– wow –– is this cat a winner!

Dr. Khuly Builds Her First Cat Enclosure

As the direct result of a simultaneous, two cat adoption, I had to build an outdoor cat enclosure to keep them safely contained. The cats love going in and out at will, and I double-love the fact that they’re not exposed to disease or trauma, they’re not killing the songbirds that pass this way twice a year during migration — and I don’t have to clean a litterbox. If that last one isn't a selling point, I have no idea what will entice you to build (or buy) one of these for yourself.

Gastón’s Head Heals (Sort Of)

Gastón (named after the eponymous hurricane of 2010) is a recovering head trauma survivor. Although it’s been well over a year since his vehicular trauma and subsequent integration into my household, he’s continuing to make progress. Nearly immobile upon arrival, he gradually progressed to where he could walk well enough to do his business. But his head tilt and chronic dry eye meant lots of home care. Over the past nine months, he’s gradually improved to the point that the once-dramatic head tilt is almost imperceptible and the dry eye needs medication only a couple of times a week.

Vincent’s Spinal Fix

My Frenchie, Vincent, has spinal issues. His back has been nothing but a burden since he turned 2. At that time, his back pain and reduced ability to walk (after suffering a slipped disk) led to his first surgery. Earlier this year, his second foray into the world of neurology (a congenital subarachnoid cyst) landed him –– again –– in the operating room. Not good. But after getting world-class care at Miami Veterinary Specialists, he’s doing great, thank you very much.

The Future

I certainly hope you had a great Thanksgiving and that you continue to enjoy this weekend with your family. You definitely deserve the time off from the daily grind to concentrate on the things that truly matter, which is where my final thought comes in: Lots of bad things happened to me in 2011.

Yet my ability to maintain an indefatigable sense of optimism in the face of adversity has allowed me to identify the positives and run with them. With the right attitude, anything is possible, right?

And if you have any trouble getting to gratitude, just take an honest look at your animals. After all, they have a way of being grateful for you all of the time, not just during the holidays.