Bartering

I have decided that it is completely irrational and absurd to expect someone with as many animals, jobs, books, and writings as my husband and I have to keep a clean house. However, I refuse to live in filth and dust like a beast. So, I have an idea…

I am willing to give you – you know who you are, you with the apartment or rental with rules about animals but really, really want a dog or cat anyway – the pleasant experiences of dog or cat ownership (the cuddles, kisses, snuggles, playing, fetch, walks, hiking, whatever it is you love about animal companionship) in exchange for housework. You only have to clean one day a week. I will even take care of the laundry.

What a deal! What an offer!

Any takers?

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Other People and Advice

As with children, everyone you meet has advice for you when you have a puppy. As with the advice given to parents of children, the advice that is given to parents of furries is often well-meaning and useless.

At the end of the day, no one knows your puppy, kitty, cat, dog, son, daughter, lizard, bird, and household as you do. You deal with it every single day. You witness the ups and downs every single day. You get the feel of when to correct and when to be patient. You should follow the advice of professionals (as you should with children), but ultimately you are the leader of the pack and will make changes that your puppy requires.

Keep in mind advice is given for the average. Extremes are needed to make averages. It is also very possible your puppy, child, cat, etc. will conform to the standards in the books and it is equally possible she will buck the system and require all your creativity.

So… keep on, keeping on. You are the best mum or dad for your critter no matter what they say.

Ace, the food addict

Our big ole boy, Acer. Despite reducing his food intake, Ace has gotten bigger and bigger. Yesterday, I found out why. I like to think the below picture is Ace’s shame of being seen at his rock bottom. Ace has eaten breakfast but it is too early for dinner when I discover what has caused this seemingly impossible phenomenon.

Yesterday, an unscheduled thunderstorm rocked our neighbourhood. I rushed home from work to let the cats inside. Once inside, Ace was convinced it was dinner time rather than three hours prior to dinner time. He yelled at me for a while before giving up on me serving food on his schedule. He sat in the office that doubles as the cat dining area and he pouted.

I turned my attention to my work. A clicking sound stirs my attention from the computer screen to the fifteen-pound cat trying to sneak from the office across the kitchen. There are few sounds that give away a cat as well as their nails clicking on the tile. Even the dogs have been awoken by the “tick, click, tick” of his steps. He gives the puppy (Elsie) wide berth and steps quietly and quickly, assuming we do not see him. Silently, we all watch him.

He hops by Elsie’s face and next to where I am seated at the writing desk and lands on the dog food table. (A low table long enough to hold two dog food bowls and one gigantic water bowl and, apparently, a determined fat cat.) He begins to eat and eat.

I call him away. Spray him with water as punishment for such awful behaviour. He sulks off. He returns and is scolded three more times.

Finally, he is found ashamed of his behaviour this morning.

Anyone know of an Eater Anonymous for cats?

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Note: Given cat food has much more protein and fewer vegetables than dog food, we believe he is gaining weight because he isn’t supposed to process all the extra veggies and such. 

Daydreaming

It is so easy to project your personality and thoughts into your animals. Perhaps that is what makes this blog such an easy way for me to ensure I am writing a little bit every single day. Speaking with friends and family only makes it clearer that I am not insane: Maggie is my personality, my soul out of my body, Elsie is Donatello, Otto is David (one of our friends), and Ace is a teenager, or independent creature, that lives in our house.

Yet, sometimes I read things that discourage such claims as animals having personalities, thoughts, and dreams. I try to consider this perspective and decide why I am so vehemently against accepting this idea as true. Other than the times I have witnessed my dogs dream, I could not really bring much more evidence to the table. But, I have thought about it and I have three main reasons to support my theory that animals have personalities and not just the ones we project on them, but real, actual personalities.

  1. Grumpiness: Maggie was grumpy Saturday. If you pet her, she would growl. If Elsie got in her face, she would growl. And, no matter what I did, she ignored me. Not Donatello, just me. She would not sit with me on the couch, come when I called, or play with me. It has never happened before: Maggie is obedient and sweet and loving. I was a little caught off guard. After a little bit, I held her and played with her without Elsie around. She resisted at first and then played and kissed me. I guess she was a little grumpy that she had to share her Mum and that Elsie has had a bit more attention lately. This display makes me certain that dogs have their own thoughts and even some emotions.
  2. Daydreaming: Below are pictures of Ace and Maggie actively daydreaming. The wind was not stirring leaves, no critters were creeping or scampering in our yard, nor was anything else outside worth focused attention. Yet, both animals are completely lost to their thoughts. I think what sells it the most to me is the abandoned bowl at Maggie’s chest. She chose to stare and think rather than eat. You cannot convince me this is the behaviour of an instinct only driven creature.
  3. Sense of Humour: I know people with less sophisticated a sense of humour than my animals. Example: Otto will sit above Ace. He will then tag one side of Ace, hide, tag the other side, hide, repeat. As he does this, he watches us as if to say, “Can you believe this fool?”  Example 2: Otto will taunt Elsie. Get her all excited about playing tag with a kitty (which Otto does like at times). He will lead Elsie to Ace, hide, and watch as panic and hilarity ensue (Ace does not, at all, ever enjoy playing tag with a puppy.

These intentional acts reassure me that dogs and cats and perhaps many other animals are actually very intelligent creatures with personalities and dreams of their own. Or maybe, as a writer, I just really, really want to see life, intellect, etc. every where I look.

Any thoughts or stories of your critters that prove they are smart, clever, and have their own personality? I would love to hear about your pet’s habits and nuances.

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Good morning!

The house is cool, the sun has hardly crept over the mountain, the comforter has never been so comfortable, and you hear the stomping of a seven-month Bouvier puppy playing. Oh, please, let me sleep until the alarm clock sounds, you beg silently. You freeze and act asleep as if somehow she will sense you are awake and that will interrupt her silent playtime. Just as you drift back off to sleep, 55 pounds of dog jumps on your bed. (If you are lucky, it will be the other side of the bed, empty of a husband, headed to work already. Often, it will be directly on top of you that the puppy lands.) She licks your face, once and jumps off. Then, she begins to jump onto and off the bed.

What is this cruel morning ritual?

It is how Elsie indicates the need to go outside. It will stop only when she is convinced you are out of bed and headed outside or when she can no longer hold it. It is a chance you do not want to take, so you get up and take her out. Maggie follows, still in a stupor and not quite ready to take on the day. You nod at Maggie, she is your lifeline in this moment of insanity.

You make it down the stairs, bleary-eyed, tired, and with a puppy bouncing around. Suddenly, a black blur runs to the couch. You squint. Otto is prepped and ready to take off outside. You now have to block the cat, get the dogs out, and wake up.

Somehow you manage. Elsie even potties outside.  You’re an awesome adult, rocking this puppy parenting thing.

Your alarm hasn’t even gone off.