I have always been a cat person. From the time that I was five, and we got our first kitten, I was solidly in the feline camp. The only dogs I ever spent any time around were my grandmother’s blind chihuahua, her psychotic Shih Tzus and my cousins’ twin peeing cocker spaniels, Christy & Misty. Oh, and the neighbor kid’s killer German Shepherd… the reason that I always walked the long way around the block to school or my cousin’s house.
When Dave & I moved in together, we got two kittens from the same littler…two little gray striped tabbies we named Trixie and Alice. The cats were well into their sixteenth year when the house across the street was broken into. We live in a good neighborhood, but you just never know. Isabel was too old for daycare and would be walking home to an empty house after school every day. It was time to get a dog.
Much to the dismay of our geriatric cats, we brough home a ninety-eight pound golden retriever named Breezy.
Breezy is a big, loveable oaf of a dog. We quickly discovered that she wouldn’t be much help in the event of an actual robbery; but, once you came in, she would gladly show you to the flat screen, in the hopes that you’d get her tennis ball from under the television console. Our thought was that A) Isabel wouldn’t come home to an empty house (the cats didn’t count…they stayed on our bed all day) and B) Breezy’s big dog bark would discourage any would be prowlers.
As time wore on, and Breezy realized that the cats weren’t good for more than about two quick chases down the hall a day, she began to get bored. Isn’t that how most people end up with more than one animal? “She needs a buddy!”
We had just started to have this discussion, with much resistance on Dave’s part. After years of listening to the kids promise to feed, walk, play with and clean up after a dog, he wasn’t anxious to get another pet…especially since the cats had entered their “random peeing” phase.
One spring weekend, we headed out to do some errands. One stop included Home Depot, right next door to Petco (where the pets go!)
There, in the parking lot, was a guy sitting on the tailgate of a pickup with an empty pen in front of him. In his arms was a squirmy bundle of fur. We slowed down, curiosity piqued and asked what had been in the pen. As he answered, “Sheltie puppies…this little guy is the last one,” he put the puppy into Ben’s arms. Well played, random dude. He could spot a family afflicted PLPS* at twenty paces. Isabel, Ben & I squealed with delight, and Dave was lost.
Errands derailed, we promptly headed into Petco to get the puppy checked by the vet and to get the various & sundry new puppy paraphernalia we’d need.
When we got home, Breezy was thrilled. This was even better than a toy…this was a buddy! The size differential worried us a bit at first, but the puppy soon figured out that Breezy just wanted to play…he could always squeeze under a chair or even under our bed if the big dog got too rough.
The cats were not amused. The first time that Trixie started down the hall for the litter box and the puppy came bounding up, she looked back at us like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Alice, always a neurotic, skittish little thing, would bound down the hall like a jack-rabbit, and only if she could hear the dogs outside.
The cats finally died two summers ago, at the age of nineteen. They died within two weeks of each other – Alice first, and then Trixie. It was like “Where the Red Fern Grows:” Trixie just couldn’t live without her sister and quit eating. It was awful.
The dogs seemed to understand how upsetting this was, because for a while, they were more subdued. After a week or two, though, they were back to tearing in and out of the dog door, wrestling and barking.
We’ve always called our pets by nicknames in addition to their given names. The cats were Vomitosa and Puke-anini for their always endearing propensity for hacking up furballs at the end of the bed and for peeing on anything that was destined to be close to your head, i.e., pillows, sweaters, towels, etc.
The dogs have a variety of nicknames. Their given names are Breezy and Bailey, but they also respond to Wookie & Ewok, Big Dog & Little Boy, Boris & Natasha, Itchy & Scratchy, and Dave’s favorites, Shit Head and Pain in My Ass.
Bailey is up for a new name. He has just recently been afflicted with a new condition…we’re not sure if there’s a medical term for it, but his new name is Pepe le Poop. Lately, when he has been startled, or if Dave raises his voice…even in jest, Bailey drops a little present on the floor. He literally gets the crap scared out of him.
At first, we thought that it might just be something that had gotten caught under his tail…he’s a very furry little guy; but, the other night, we ordered a pizza. When the doorbell rang, Bailey went from a sound sleep on the cool kitchen tile to a barking maniac out by the side gate. A trail of little turdlettes followed him out the door. As gross as this is, it still makes me giggle, as I imagine a little “bloop” sound as he drops each one.
Getting used to dogs has been interesting. They are certainly different from cats, in that they will fall all over themselves for just a little bit of attention. the cats would put up with the occasional chin scratch; but, really couldn’t be bothered.
Getting used to living in a whole house/yard litter box also takes some getting used to. Pepe isn’t making things any easier; but, his silly little pointy face looking up at us adoringly just about makes up for it. I miss the cats, and I’m just waiting on the right moment to reintroduce cats into the house…Dave will be so pleased!
*PLPS – Parking Lot Pet Syndrome – the need to adopt any stray or animal being given away on street corners or in parking lots
(image credit – me)