Posts Tagged With: Pets

 
 

Something the Cat Dragged In

Cute, yes?

Cute, yes?

One of the four cutest kids I know has a cat at her house, named Penelope Buttercup. Also, there’s a dog named Pabst, which you should imagine as a teddy bear that Penelope has targeted as arch-enemy number one. Oh, and this sweet girl also has a stuffed toy mouse who goes by the name of, well, Mouse.

When I’ve been lucky enough to spend time at her home she uses some big words for such a little girl. And by big, I mean loud. If the cat walks past she’ll yell “TAAAAAT!” If the dog walks by she hollers, “PAAAAAAAP!” And if you show her the stuffed mouse she proclaims, “MOWW!”

There’s no question which of those three she’s referring to. Not sure why the dog isn’t called “DAWG!” I suppose “PAAAAAP!” can be shouted easier. Who knows what goes on in those little computer brains of babies these days.

When I see a cat now I automatically yell in my head “TAAAAAAAT!” It’s my little equivalent of seeing a moon and thinking someone else I love who lives far away is seeing the same moon. I see a cat and know that my little palindrome grand-daughter sees a cat during her day, too.

Every I look I see cats. Especially online. Cats, cats, cats, cats, cats.

Why?

These aren’t particularly friendly critters. Hardly. They’re standoffish and snooty. And yet the human race seems to embrace the furballs with unbridled ridiculousness.

Of course, I used to be the same way. As a tweenager I adopted a stray cat every time the last stray disappeared. Which was often. Weird. They were various combinations of black and white, whose names I don’t remember except for Zorro, which, of course, sported a little black mask around his eyes. And there was Tom, the feral cat, who was horse cat of a different color.

The term “something the cat dragged in” could have and often did refer to my Tom. You can read about him here if you’re curious.

My oldest daughter’s cat, pre-Penelope, would bring lizards and live birds in through the cat door at her house. Things got a bit exciting then, especially with multiple cats and a dog or two living there.

In Washington state we had neighbor cats that used to leave dead birds on our doorstep as a gesture of friendship. How sweet. We felt so…loved, or some other emotion. Just recently I thought that some human relationships are just like that. One person presents what they perceive as astounding gifts of love and sacrifice and the receiver only sees mayhem and grossness. That’s one of the saddest kinds of stories I know.

MSH hasn’t ever been a cat person. In fact, he taught my son at a very young age about the “handle” on a cat. SMH (Shaking My Head.) I’m afraid he took too well to that teaching and hauled many a neighborhood cat around by its tail.

My middle daughter and I once watched a cat play with a mouse in a sloped driveway. It was all kinds of fascinating. That is until the cat bit off the mouse’s head and played with that for a while. When the crunching started we left the area.

In a similar tone my parents’ cat leaves dismembered field critters on the driveway, proving his usefulness in spite of all proof to the contrary.

Sweet half-size Oreo.

Sweet half-size Oreo.

A notable exception to uppity cats is my son’s recently adopted dwarf cat, Oreo. He’s fully grown but still quite small, with a smooshy face and no meow. He doesn’t really jump or climb or do much of anything cat-like. That is, except for taunting the grand-dog Blondie by walking near the dog food dish. Subtle but effective snark there, if you ask me. (This little guy belonged to my brother who has five kids at home and has now rehomed of all the pets.)

Figuratively speaking, I often look like something the cat dragged in after a few hours of yard work, but then, don’t we all? Actually I think I look that way first thing in the morning too, but a bike helmet covers that up pretty well.

Some days I feel like something the cat dragged in, discombobulated, disoriented and “dis” in general. Days like that I kind of wish I were a cat, able to lounge about in odd places, soaking up some sun, or sprawled along the top of the couch. Maybe curled into a ball in a dark corner somewhere. Those days I just want someone to rub my neck and reassure me that I’m worthwhile and useful and loved and that yes, that “everything is gonna be okay.”

Ever so un-catlike, I have to actually be useful. I go about my days and nights fulfilling my obligations, contributing to society and the well-being of a few people I know and attempt to stay cheerful. I think I’m more like a dog than a cat. But that’s not all bad.

If all else fails I can always watch funny cat videos on YouTube, right?

~~~~~

“Meow” means “woof” in cat.” 
 ~ George Carlin

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Categories: Being Human, Communication | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Nameless: The Bear Who Still Lives, Sort of

Friday Letter to My Kids – April 17, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

When I need to get some conversation started with someone I don’t know well I often mention my Grand-dogs, Blondie and Pabst. Almost everyone can relate to dogs and dog stories. They always get a chuckle out of the term “grand-dog.” For sure it’s a real thing. I bought some doggie treats the other day to have around the house. Is that a Grandma thing, or what? It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to dog ownership given your dad’s anti-dog attitude.

Kind of along the same lines as pets, with an imaginative metaphysical leap, stuffed animals fall in a similar category.

This one's on ebay and labeled Vintage.

This one’s on ebay and labeled Vintage.

The first stuffed animal to join our family back in the very early eighties was Peter Cottontail. I know you all know him only as “That Creepy Bunny” but he once had led a charmed and happy life. When Peter first arrived, Big J had also just arrived. (Hard to believe the man i stand on tip-toes to hug was once such a tiny snuggable babe.) If you wound up Peter’s key he’d play the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” in sweet music box chime, while his head moved from side to side with the music. His fur was soft, his blue velvet jacket removable, and his whiskers ever so cute.

After a few years, in an attempt to keep him from getting destroyed, Peter spent some time in a box or two, and in storage more than a couple of times. Then he became an Easter decoration. Somewhere along the way his blue jacket got lost, his whiskers bent and his head movements grew jerky and odd, more like a tick than a dance. Oh, and his song kind of warped. In fact, I haven’t seen Peter for a while now. I’m a little worried about him. Probably made the migration to another box in the garage. I’m not sure he’s going to get to be a real bunny. But that’s another story.

Other stuffed animals came to stay, most for a long time. The Care Bears that your Grandma M made captured my heart. And Sparky moved away with Big L and now frolics with her littles, flatter and smooshier than he was when he got named by Grandpa M.  And then there’s Lambie, a few years younger than Peter and much fluffier with a wind up chime that still plays. Where did Lambie go anyway? Hmmm.

Then there’s this guy…

Big enough to sit up in my office chair.

Big enough to sit up in my office chair.

This bear came to me in my early teen years. A snuggly friend to hold and talk to when I felt friendless and forlorn. (A common malady called puberty, if I recall correctly. As per Baymax.) Somehow I never named this bear. How strange is that? He came along with me when I moved out of my childhood home, but shortly afterwards developed a leaky foot. Pieces of stuffing bled out of him in spurts and squirts and made a mess. He got put in a mending pile, then the mending box, then a box of his own. I finally, finally, finally fixed his owie last year so he doesn’t leak. But still, no one really plays with him. Is he too big? Intimidating? Lacking a personality? Maybe if he had a name he’d seem friendlier and more approachable. Maybe he needs a little messenger bag that hold treats and chocolate, a kind of bribery for friendship deal. I just don’t know.

He probably needs to hang out on the couch so he can pick up some pointers from watching Netflix, TED talks and PBS. Frankly, I’m a little sad for him.

The playgroup?

The playgroup?

Maybe I can get a playgroup going between him and the White Tiger, Beremy, the Huggy Bears, Chicken, and Giraffe. Red Pig and Crocodile will want to be part of the gang. Maybe Lambchop can join in too, if he can promise not to sing that endless song.

I’m a little worried that I’m even considering such things. I’m sure I just need to get out more often. It might be time for me to find a paying gig. Or go back to school.

I’m fine. Really.

In the meantime, If you have any ideas for a good stuffed bear name, let me know. I’m open to suggestions.

Lots of love,

Mom

~~~~~

P.S. Do you remember The Teddy Bears Picnic? Click here to listen to it again. Good times!!

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Let the Doggie Out?

Last week I dog sat. Yes. Me.

MSH even agreed to it, which in itself constitutes an incredible miracle of stellar proportions.

Look at this face. Who could say no to this face?

Sweet lil Blondie.

Sweet lil Blondie.

A fluffy curling tail that wags faster than a hummingbirds wing, this sweet little doggie grabs your heart and won’t let go. Kind of how she grabs her squeaker toy for a game of throw, fetch and keep away.

She’s new to the extended family, but not a puppy. She’s about eight years old and obviously not used to children. Her disposition lies somewhere along the realm of a pampered princess with little use for sticky little grabbing hands and unpredictability and loudness that comes with the territory of small children.

She’s playful, just not in a kid-friendly or other dog friendly way. She’s been the center of attention, the ruler of all things household.

She sports a blingy collar to match her bleach blond fur and mincing little steps. I took her along on my walk at the Rip one morning and had a tough time keeping up with those short legs. She’s fast and curious and doesn’t waste any time doddling, except over certain bushes and taller grasses. She loved the rabbits and if not on a leash would certainly have managed to catch one or at least give it a good run.

Y’know that ankle-biter dog bark? Yeah, that one. She’s got it down. Thing is, she’s got the razor-sharp chops and the chutzpah to back it up. I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side. No way.

We had a great time. Except for the fact that I worried about her when away from the house. I didn’t want to stay away too long. I felt bad leaving her at all, especially when she’d get so excited when I prepped to go.

Honestly, I felt like a brand new mom all over again. Completely clueless about what I should do with this little bundle. How much attention to give? How much to let her just do her own thing? Is she eating enough? Drinking enough? What about potty issues? How much is enough, too much? All those looks, barks, growls, yips, non-verbal communication that I can’t interpret no matter how much I want to.

Smiling lovingly at her "mommy."

Smiling lovingly at her “mommy.”

And there’s surely some doggie etiquette I didn’t get while out in public. Is there a book about that? And I didn’t remember what mix of breeds she is, (akin to cluelessness about your own child’s age.)

All that worry melted away when she sat on my lap or lay at my feet.

See? Just like a kid! They look so sweet and adorable and problem-free when they sleep.

When her mommy/owner picked her up I felt both relief and sadness. Relief because someone who knew what to do and understood her language could meet her needs better than I. And sadness because she brought an energy and joy into our home I hadn’t expected. Hopefully she’ll come visit soon.

Don’t get too excited. No potential doggie adoption here. Nope. MSH’s heart wasn’t captured, snuggled or charmed. Not a chance.

Categories: Fun | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pet Peeved People

Friday Letter to my Kids

Dear J, J, L and L,

After Sunday’s hour long downpour and subsequent temporary pond creation, nearly every member of the neighborhood walked past or around or through the park/pond. I couldn’t help but notice how many dogs accompanied the humans. I see people walking their dogs every day all day at the park since it’s right outside our front door. I just had no idea quite so many lived here as I saw concentrated in one Sunday evening. I’d guess three out of four neighbors house one or more dogs.

Clearly, that puts our family in the minority.

Since one of you recently adopted a blingy blond princess dog, (Blondie) and one of you has a ginormous, slobbery, loveable dog named after a beer, (Pabst) as well as a cute but moody cat (Penelope Buttercup) I’ve thought some about the few pets we’ve had over the years.

I suppose first I ought to discuss the elephant in the room, or more concisely, the dog not in the room.

I know, I know, we never owned a dog.

That’s more your Dad’s doing than mine. I’d have probably relented, against my better judgment, if it had just been me making those decisions.

Or not.

There were various dogs in my household growing up, one or two of which produced some slightly traumatic experiences. (Being home alone when the small Beagle began birthing the babies of the biggest dog in the neighborhood didn’t go over well in my pre-facts-of-life brain.)

stunnedSorry. Had to call my therapist and have a conversation there for a minute… (kidding)

Anyway. No dogs for your growing up years. And look, you survived!

Laaaaaa!!!

Cue the orchestra.

Nope. No dogs.

Instead Parakeets blessed our household. Bright green Sunny lived up to his namesake by being a ray of chipperness and laughs. I loved how you used to build Lego mazes for him to search through to get to the inanimate love of his life, a bell. Weirdest relationship on the planet.

image by Testostera

image by Testostera

I’ll never forget when he flew out the open garage door and Little J followed him through the neighborhood, climbed a forty-foot tree (what was I thinking?) and got him to climb on her hand. Completely inspired, she tucked him into her shirt and shimmied down the tree and ran home. Talk about heroic love!

I’m not sure if we can count “Suffer” as a real pet, since it was a stray that hung out by the back door that we occasionally fed. And occasionally bought medicine to put in its food. And occasionally, on really cold snowy days, let in the house if the parakeet was in its cage. It remained a stray when we moved cross-country. I didn’t really feel too guilty sending it back to its free and wily ways of mooching off whatever neighbor took compassion on it.

I learned a few years later that three-year old Big L’s naming of “Suffer” wasn’t in reference to his mangy, tattered countenance, but a reference to Disney Cinderella’s cat “Lucifer.” Say it out loud like you just found a dead mouse and you’ll see where she came up with the name.

Maverick, the blue parakeet, escaped the same way as Sunny, but we never saw feather nor tail of her again. And Blossom, another blue, met a most unfortunate demise, which also might require calls to therapists if I ever divulge in what state I found her.

After Sunny passed away, with the requisite burial in a box in the side yard, we didn’t have any more pets for a while.

That is, until the fish. Teenaged Little J had a spell with that saltwater tank. But it’s tough to bond with fish and crabs and snails. And that thing never smelled very good.

And Little L had that poor oxygen deprived goldfish that was more depressing that cheering, about exactly the opposite of its intended purpose. And then a few other nameless, nothing whatsoever like Nemo the Disney cartoon personality-filled fishies, swam in and out of our lives for a brief spell.

And finally, two more parakeets who, thanks to Dad and his overly generous and somewhat sidetracked nature, flew out of their open cage that he’d set out on the back patio during an extra windy day.

Thus ended the Tilby family pet saga.

A predominate theme with all but the saltwater fish and the cat: Mom did the majority of cleaning.

Ew.

Not happy memories there.

At least with human children the poop eventually becomes the child’s own task. With pets, it’s forever the job of the human to clean up the piles and putrefaction.

Give me kids any day.

Bottom line. I’m happy if you’re happy in your pet-filled or pet-less lives.

Carry on.

Lovingly yours,
Mom

P.S. Thank you for not asking me to experience snakes, pigs, rats, rabbits, mice, hamsters, miniature deer or tarantulas as pets.

photo-23 copy 5

 

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.” ~Christopher Hitchens

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Doggone it! “IT’S A DOG’S LIFE–ESPECIALLY AT THE BARRETTS”

I don’t have much experience with dogs. Except for a fairly traumatic experience with a beagle when I was nine or ten. But that story isn’t entertaining, enlightening or really all that interesting. It just made me not want to ever own a dog in my life.

I’ve worked with dogs. No, I’m not referencing any of my bosses, who have all been wonderful. No, really. But a couple times I worked at someone’s home and their dog or dogs became an integral part of my work day, and sometimes my non-work day.

What I’m taking far too long to say here is I have no dog stories. But I recently read one that summed up dog ownership with such grace and aplomb that I decided I needed to let you, my faithful readers in on the same story.

So here, straight from the pen of one of my dear writer’s group friends, Elizabeth Barrett, I turn you over to her able and witty words:

theotherelizabethbarrett

Buddy and Livvi

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

I do not like dogs.  The only thing they have going for them is that they are 50 times better than cats.  For some reason the word “cat” puts a shiver down my bones.  I don’t know why I wasn’t blessed with an animal loving gene.  I think when the lines were queuing in Heaven for various attributes, I stood far too long in the Music lines, constantly looking over at the Photography and Writing and Speaking lines to make sure I could eventually get into them.  There was no time to wait in the Animal Loving line before I was whisked to earth and set down in Rexburg, Idaho, during a blinding snow storm.

But Brad loves dogs and has to have one.  We’ve been through many as a family: Chisum, Beau, Alamo, Chorizo, Mariah, Ike, Jeremiah, Sammi and Bailey to name a few.  We’ve had…

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Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tuning the Cat

“If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat.

—   Douglas Adams

English: This feral cat is about to drink wate...

Have I mentioned that my dad is a cat tuner? Yes, you read that correctly, a cat tuner. No it’s not a Boston-accent kind of fish.

The best I can do is illustrate how he goes about tuning a cat.

My youngest brother had a cat named Car Keys.  Now Car Keys would be lounging about, sleeping, minding his own business in some quiet corner. Dad would slink up beside Car Keys and in one swift movement stamp his foot, clap his hands and let out an ear-piercing whistle. That poor kitty would leap about three feet into the air, let out a yowl and take off running out of dead sleep.

“That is how you tune a cat,” my dad would say, laughing.

He was simply honing the cat’s natural instincts.

Another time Dad might pick up Car Keys and snuggle him, pet that sweet spot behind the ears, love on that cat as if it were the best friend he ever had. Car Keys would get all comfortable and feel loved and cared for.  At about that point Dad would gently toss the cat on to the roof.

You know if he could speak that cat would be saying, “*$($%*@(??*!!!!” Which is simply cat language for “what the heck?”

If I were that cat I’d leap down on Dad’s head and claw his ears apart. But no, Car Keys would slink about the roof looking for an easy way down.  That cat liked to hang out on the roof after a while. I think it figured out Dad couldn’t sneak up on him very easily up there.

Having been the instrument of many of dad’s tunings, Car Keys didn’t, surprisingly, run away when he was around. That cat would still rub up against Dad’s leg, meow at him with affection and interest, and generally treat Dad like a regular person. Maybe it was Car Key’s way of proving to Dad that he wasn’t going to be manipulated, changed, or tuned.

I think Dad ’s also keeping himself sharp and tuned, like a young kid. That’s how he stays young, by being mischievous. That twinkle in his eye comes from seeing the world through a humorous lens.  I think his mind is always thinking, “What can I do to liven things up, stir the pot, or kick things up a notch?”

Another brother’s cat lives with Mom and Dad nowadays. It seems to tolerate Dad’s tuning and teasing. It still snuggles up to him, doesn’t scratch him, and brings him dead critters it caught in the field as gifts of love.

If people were more like cats, or least like the cats my Dad has tuned, life would be a heck of a lot calmer and there’d be less contention.  It’s as if those cats get my Dad. They understand he’s not mean. He’s just being silly and having fun. The cat mentality is so chill and relaxed, so forgiving and easygoing that none of Dad’s antics can keep it ruffled for long. People need to chill out, learn to laugh, relax, forgive, move on.

Come to think of it, Dad used to tune us kids. We’d be riding in the front seat of the truck or car, with him at the wheel, watching the scenery blowing past, relaxed and  feeling good. There wasn’t much conversation usually. Next thing you know Dad would let out a whoop or an ear-piercing whistle and grab that tickle spot on just above your knee caps on the outside edged. We’d yelp and leap about four feet, which is tough to do in a vehicle with a low roof.

He’d chuckle and, once our heart rate slowed down a bit. Oh, we’d be in tune, but wary.

Never could return the favor.

Dang it.

Categories: Family, Humor, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Scratch and Sniff Post; Thoughts from the Dogless Side of Life

You know that famous painting of the dogs playing poker?  I know a dog that could do that.  He is a player, a faker, a bluffer.  He uses every situation to his advantage.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression, he’s not a mean dog. Farthest thing from it.  He’s the sweetest thing on four legs I’ve ever met.

You see, he’s actually a drama queen kind of dog.  Yes, it’s true.  A dog drama queen.

Let me introduce you to Murphy.  First of all, he is not my dog.  I do not own dogs, I don’t have any desire to own dogs.  I have children, and a husband. Just enough of each.  A dog is just another human being in disguise.  I have no need for another household member to care for, worry about, feed, cajole, mollify, or cater to.  (Now I sound like a bad guy, whatever.)

Drama Queen Extraordinaire, Murphy

Murphy is the proud owner of a family that I am friends with.  I’m at their home almost every day.  And every time I show up at the door, there is Murphy behaving as if I abandoned him and he thought he’d never see me again.  He gets this whiny, shaking, I’m so traumatized I could cry thing going on that makes you want to pick him up and snuggle him like a baby.  Just like he wants you to do.  I used to buy into this act. He’s not really all that traumatized.  But it gets him some stellar attention. I’ve seen him act that way with other visitors to the house, and frankly I get a little jealous.  Which of course plays into Murphy’s scheming.

Once a rescue puppy, he has scraggly black fur, a lopsided ear and a nub of a tail. Murphy can look for all the world like a newborn puppy when his fur grows too long.  He becomes a roly-poly looking furball with no eyes.  When he’s been to the groomers and gotten a nice cut, he’s the skinniest ratlike creature I’ve ever seen. Clean shaven or fluffy he uses his good looks to his own personal benefit. He’s going to cute his way into your heart, no matter how determined you may be to keep him at a distance.

I’ve spent a little too much time at Murphy’s house.  I know this because I’ve learned all the nuances of his barking.  There’s the typical territorial barking at the window if the mailman dares drive by or the neighborhood’s little old man shuffles past.  His pitch, speed and excitement increase a notch if someone approaches the door.

If someone he doesn’t like comes to the door, Murphy becomes a Doberman.  Attack dog on the loose, watch out.  It’s really something to see a tiny fuzzball transform into the mental equivalent of a guard dog.  Fierce in a hilarious sort of way. He’s got your back and he lets you know it. Being so tiny he might not being able to do much to save your back, but he’s there, nonetheless.

Some visitors to the house are welcomed with a song by Murphy.  Literally, he starts a high-pitched singing thing, as if he can’t control the excitement and joy in his voice.  It’s a doggy version of angelic choirs breaking forth. Drama. Queen.

I must be delicious because my legs get a regular going over with his tongue. He especially likes the taste of knees.  If your hands are idle he will commandeer them for his personal pleasure.  Human hands were created for nothing more than caressing Murphy behind the ears or feeding him.  A lap is useless if Murphy can’t utilize it.

Suggest to Murphy that he might go out for a walk and he spins in circles at the thought.  He grabs his leash once it’s attached as if he’s going to walk himself.  Ask him if he wants a car ride and he becomes a bouncing ball, leaping four feet into the air in answer, working himself into a frenzy of anticipation.

Murphy spends an inordinate amount of time sleeping, and he does so anywhere he wants to; in one of the kids beds, in the middle of the hallway, at your feet, on the arm of the couch. His favorite place for repose is molded around the curves of someone’s body, tummy exposed, all four legs splayed out, completely trusting.

When no one is looking, Murphy likes to clear the kitchen table of any leftovers, but don’t tell his family that.  He’s a great vacuum, too, as most dogs are. And, he likes to eat carrots, which I think is kind of quirky. He pretends he’s starving if you have food.  He gets his whine on in the most overplayed, melodramatic, sad puppy dog eyed way I have ever witnessed.

All Murphy needs is a little crown and his life would be complete.  He is royalty and silliness, take and give, all rolled into one bundle. And what a package!

Categories: Humor, Relationships | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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