Anyway, let’s start with the pets who cause the least amount of trouble, the goldfish Blinky and Glitter.They are perfect pets, in that they have never caused me a sleepless night, never needed costly trips to the vet, and have never, ever peed on my carpet. They come when I call them (which I do by sprinkling fish food on the water). They haven’t bitten anyone. And, so far, they haven’t died. So, they win our highest rating. Of course, they don’t do much besides eat, sleep, swim around their tank, and poop, but they still win the honor of Pet of the Week, and all the other pets are encouraged to learn from their example.
Next on the least-trouble scale is Bitey the hamster. He has gotten big and fluffy, and is really cute. And mean. Well, he’s gotten nicer to me, in that he doesn’t bite me anymore, but he still has a taste for human flesh. Let me recount the incident concerning Bitey and my ten-year-old nephew Dallin to illustrate my point.Last month my youngest brother and his kids came to visit. Young Dallin, apparently mistaking Bitey for the late Hamster (whose epitaph was, as you may recall, “He never bit anyone, ever”) went over to the rodent cage and took off the cover. I got there in the nick of time, warning him that this hamster, named “Bitey,” bites. I added that Bitey had bit lots of people, would bite anyone who tried to touch him, and basically was a biter.Dallin seemed impressed with my warning … or so I thought, until a minute later he asked how hard Bitey bit.
“REALLY hard,” I replied.”So you shouldn’t put your hand in his cage. Got it?”
Dallin said indignantly that he wouldn’t bother the hamster, but then asked conversationally, “But if you were going to pick him up, how would you do it?”
“I WOULDN’T do it, because he would bite,” I stated forcefully.
Dallin nodded thoughtfully. And then, not a minute later, I saw his hand go into the cage.
Later, after all the shrieking and the blood, when Dallin’s finger had been cleaned and bandaged, I asked him why he tried to pick up Bitey despite all my warnings.
“I didn’t think he would bite ME,” he said in a tone of betrayed trust.
After a minute he brightened up a bit and added, “You were right — he did bite me really hard. He made me bleed a whole bunch. I am going to tell everyone about it at Show and Tell tomorrow.”
Bitey hasn’t bitten anyone since then, but he has encouraged several kids to change their minds about wanting a hamster for a pet.
The cats (Andy, Jet Jaguar, Tibby, and Zigra) are all fine.Andy, who is 17 now, underwent a “Senior Checkup” at the vet’s last month. Cost? No one can say.Okay, it cost $200. It included a kitty EKG, “stool floating,” and the option where they send the blood tests to the really good lab for results.
The bottom line is: he’s fine, except that there was some anomaly with his EKG results that could mean nothing, or could mean something really serious is wrong with his heart. But since he exhibits no symptoms (and since there is little they could do even if his heart were failing), I declined the offer of further expensive tests (a kitty heart X-ray, diagnostics conducted by Dr. House for cats, etc.) at this time, instead telling Andy that he should take the “Run for Your Life” approach to life, and try to cram 20 years of living into the next two or three.
Jet Jaguar has gotten enormous. (He must weigh 20 pounds or so). But in his favor, he does have big bones. Plus, his namesake had that option of growing in size when he needed to fight monsters, and then shrinking when the encounter was over, I’m hoping that Jet will reduce when the time is right. Plus, since he can still jump from the entertainment center to the 15-foot-wall that divides the living room from the kitchen, he can’t be in too bad of shape.
Tibby has grown into a really sweet cat, but I still haven’t been able to convince him to raise the kittens for me.
Here is a photo of him lying on the cord of the digital camera. (I bet the photographers from National Geographic don’t have to put up with this kind of thing.)
Zigra is even sweeter in temperament than Tibby (but more shy). He is also a very attractive cat, I must say. He is currently rubbing against my legs, trying to get back into my good graces. See, he escaped from the yard on Sunday, and didn’t come back until the wee hours of the morning, leaving me to stay up most of the night calling him, searching for him, and fretting like an anxious parent whose kid may have eloped, may just have lost track of time with his friends, or who may have been eaten by a giant Gila monster. He came back rather abashed and eager to make amends — I guess he’s afraid I am going to send him to military school.
Scott (who had to hear all my complaints before you did) had this to say about Zigra’s night out:
I’m glad Zigra learned his lesson (which is just as rare in a cat as shame); sure the bright lights of your small town may seem enticing, but by the middle of the night you’ve been dumped by that doxie who seemed so friendly till she found out you’re all talk (since your walk, so to speak, was last seen in medical waste container at the vet’s), you’re broke and miles from home, and so strung-out and shaking from catnip cut with Vivarin that you can barely hop the fence without impaling yourself on a stave like a carrousel horse.
That seems to sum up his experience pretty well. Maybe a little TOO well. I wonder where Scott was Sunday night . . .
The dogs, Yodie and Flossie, are much easier to live with than they used to be. At least, compared to the kittens (who still have to be fed 5 times a day, and wake me up at 6:30 each morning for their first meal).Both dogs are housebroken (under normal circumstances), and spend hours chasing each other, thus freeing me from the obligation of walking several miles a day to exercise them. They are good with the cats, and really, REALLY want to mother the kittens, giving them sloppy kisses through the baby gate whenever they get the chance. (Since the cats have resisted my baby-sitting offers, I am tempted to let the kittens be raised by wolves, so to speak.)Yodie is still mischievous and strong-willed, but he is very smart and loyal, and so will usually do what he’s told, more or less. Or at least, will do something that you can live with.
Flossie is still very sweet and eager to please. She loves everyone, and is gentle and good tempered … except when Yodie gets too close to her food bowl, when she will bark ferociously. (This happens most often when she’s not even hungry — I guess she’s just trying to hoard resources for the upcoming civil war, or something.) I’m trying to work on this “pig dog in the manger” behavior, but with little success to date.
However, the big problem this week is that the dogs picked up a bug or something (possibly from the kittens), and I didn’t get much sleep Friday or Saturday nights, what with all the vomiting, diarrhea, cleaning up the vomit and diarrhea, giving dogs baths, washing crates, etc. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for any of us. (BTW, for those of you keeping track, that makes three nights in a row in which I didn’t get more than 4 hours of sleep.)
But here’s a photo of Flossie giving me her “Pokey Little Puppy” look (or, as Scott described it, “Flossie seems to have the look of that Blue Boyish painting in Progress Island U.S.A. (‘I’M not SPEAKING to YOU…’).”
The kittens are beginning that adorable stage that all kittens go through (it will hopefully last until they find new homes). They still spend most of their time sleeping, but when they are awake and I enter the bathroom where they’re living, they run to me eagerly .. and then claw me in their frenzied quest for food (it’s like trying to feed four of those babies from “It’s Alive”)The bit, fluffy black-and-white male developed congestion in his lungs (either he aspirated milk, or got sick or something), and I thought he was going to die (I spend most of one night holding him upright on my shoulder over steamy water to help him breathe). But started to rally yesterday, and is eating again and regaining weight. He still wheezes, but is every bit as active as his brother and sisters. I attribute his recovery to the power of prayer.The cream-colored male with the gray “points” on his ears and tail, and a white mask on his face is growing like a weed. I was thinking of calling him “Stossel” in the hopes it will get him a big donation from Dow.
The large tabby female (formerly known as “Squawky”; now called “Celine”) is as loud and pushy as ever, but after her demands have been met, will roll on her back, purr, and look at you adoringly. She will go far.
The small tabby female (formerly known as “Runty”; now called “Lupita”) is a sweet but feisty kitten who can keep up with her bigger siblings just fine, and who is usually the first to stop the frantic meowing for milk and start purring. Here is a photo of her looking all waifish and orphan-like:
Anyway, that’s the story of my pets. They are good company, loving companions, and loyal (to some extent) friends. But man, are they a lot of work. And they do seem to keep finding ways to keep me from getting any sleep. I think it’s part of the brainwashing. (And it must be working, because I’ve spent about a gizillion dollars at PetSmart this month, a lot of it for kitten milk replacer, but a great deal of it for treats, toys, and other non-essentials.)
Anyway, that’s my story. Please excuse all the errors — I really haven’t had much sleep lately, and it shows. Also, please send help.
Posted by s.z. on Tuesday, June 20th, 2006 at 4:39 am.
19 Responses to “Pet Story: Or, Why the Posting Has Been Rather Scanty Lately”