Tuesday, December 29, 2015


A month ago one of my very good friends basically handed me my ass on a silver plate.  To be honest, he didn't believe I deserved the silver plate even.  He just handed me my ass.  The most frustrating thing is that he was 100% right when he gave me a rundown of all my transgressions and offenses and it's taken me a year to realize just how true everything he said was.  I haven't been listening to anyone.  I've just been acting like a stupid jerk and wondering why I've been so miserable.

I was so miserable to be around the days following my epic telling off, even the animals wanted nothing to do with me.  Everyone stayed upstairs, well out of my way, giving me a wide berth as if my very presence in their orbit was distasteful to them.  That's when you know you really have a problem.  The animals are avoiding you.  To be fair, the cats were obsessed with the new bedspread on the bed so they were spending a ridiculous amount of time on it, and the dog had developed a distrust of the stairs. She has since gotten over that now that the Cowboy fixed them with some kind of no skid treatment so she wouldn't keep falling down the stairs.

At my request of course.  The poor dog.

Once again it all comes down to compassion.  I treat my animals with so much compassion.  Tess pees on the floor and my first thought is she has a bladder infection or kidney issues so she needs to go the vet to get checked out.  It's happened twice now.  I don't yell at her or scold her for having accidents.  She feels bad enough already as peeing in the house is not something she does regularly.  There is no reason to punish her.  It's the same with the cats, particularly Willow.  Her peeing on the floor became such an issue, instead of getting rid of the cat, I got her a kennel with her own litter box and tore all the carpeting out, opting for hard floors.  Now if she pees on the floor, it doesn't matter (it does still irritate me though - I mean how hard is it to just walk the extra four inches to the box and get in it?).  Still, I can clean it up, no problem.  I accommodate the cats.  I've changed their food to accommodate food allergies, changed their litter to make going to the bathroom easier, had the floor treated for Tess' benefit.

I even rushed Puckett to the vet when there was absolutely nothing wrong with her.  Precious just wanted her breakfast in a china bowl.

Why then is it so hard to treat my fellow man with the same amount of compassion I show my pets?  Why do I believe people aren't as deserving of compassion?  Obviously when one is behaving like a miserable cow, one isn't capable of compassion even for oneself. However, the thing I've learned over the years is that when people are at their absolute worst that is when they need compassion, love, and understanding the most.  Unfortunately that is when it's the hardest to give them that compassion they so desperately need, and more so because one has as good a chance as any of having it flung back in one's face for having the nerve.

How dare you try to make me feel better!  Get along with you, ruffian!

Animals behave similarly at first.  Following abuse and trauma they will lash out at first, distrustful and terrified.  However, abused animals, once they have been moved into a safe environment and undergone a bit of behavior therapy, live in the moment, move on and forget their trauma. Unfortunately many abused or mistreated animals are in such bad shape initially that few people want to deal with them and many may end up being euthanized. Humans aren't as simple, but they need compassion just as much, and more so because they are capable of behaving like the nastiest pieces of work anywhere to be found.  After all, they can't just be put down when the rest of society doesn't want to deal with their issues.  I should know.  I've been one of those people. I'm pretty sure some of my former friends wouldn't have minded having me put down. My knee-jerk reaction when I feel I've been wronged or hurt is to shut down, bottle up, and lash out in unhealthy ways.  I get easily overwhelmed by others' emotions, behaviors, and actions and I'm so sensitive to mood shifts, I take a lot of people's behavior towards me personally.  This can culminate into me reacting to what I perceive as a slight and it all goes downhill from there.  Also I sense people's moods around me and the longer I know them the more easily I can pick out their emotions.  So when someone changes their behavior towards me without any explanation or I feel a wall go up or a door slam in my face I get very agitated.  I respond with my own round of doors and walls.

I'm not always very nice.

Animals are so much easier to be around because they are sensitive to moods themselves and generally don't project a lot of emotions on others.  Unfortunately when my emotions (and others' emotions) overwhelm me so badly that there is nowhere for them to go but up and out, the animals dive for cover.  They are compassionate too, but there is really only so much they can take.  They wait for the volcano to subside before they come back around.  I don't really blame them for that and again I seem to be able to forgive them sooner than I do their human counterparts.  They forgive me as well.  I live with four role models who are constantly teaching me about compassion and forgiveness and yet, I still struggle with it.  I still fall short.

I am working on it though.  At the end of the day, I do believe that most people mean well, they just sometimes don't know how to get there either.  I guess this includes me, even when I am being a miserable cow.  We should all take a lesson from our dog friends and be more compassionate towards each other and towards ourselves.  Soul searching is never easy and sometimes it leads you to the conclusion of what others might already know, that you suck and you could use a lot of work.  Admitting that is step one.  It's only a place to start.  Step two then is maybe not being so hard on oneself.  After all, no one will show you any compassion if you aren't capable of showing yourself any, and especially if you don't believe yourself deserving of it.

And don't we all suck at times?  Couldn't we all use some work?  Don't we all need understanding from each other that we aren't going to be perpetual breaths of fresh air?  None of us are perfect all the time.  All of us are human all of the time.

We can aspire to be like the animals, but we will never reach their level of grace.

This is definitely the season to reflect and think about what we all can do for others and for ourselves, how we all can do better.  It is definitely the season for compassion.  The world is hard.  Life is hard.  Let's help each other.

I'm ready.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Little End of the Year Wisdom...

This hasn't been the best year for me, but I have learned a few things in the last twelve months that have actually turned out to be useful tidbits of knowledge.  I'd like to take a break from the animals and share some of my amazing wisdom here to wrap up the end of the year.

Not to worry, my amazing wisdom is still trumped by the fact that Tess is smarter than me, Puckett is definitely smarter than me, Percy pretends he's not, but really he is, and Willow, well, we keep her around because she's so damn cute.  Who knows, by this time next year, there may be a ridiculously smart bird in our midst too, because while I like to put on an air of being a rational human being, my closest friends all know I'm full of it.

The following are just things I've learned that work for me, not tips that I demand everyone should utilize because they are the only way to go.  Go out and have your own experiences and create a list of your own.  And please feel free to try mine to see if they work for you as well.

  • 20 minutes of Pilates Perfect Stretch performed everyday is almost as beneficial and way cheaper than going to the chiropractor or the massage therapist.
Recommendation:Ten Minute Solution: Pilates Perfect Body with Suzanne Bowen.
  • Stay flexible.  The older one gets, the harder it is.  This is where Pilates come in handy.
  • Consuming a shake consisting of water, spinach, avocado, cocoa powder, bananas, and berries at least three times a week is one of the easiest ways to get nutrients and feel better.
  • Butter is not bad unless one is lactose intolerant (or one eats the whole stick at once).
  • Everything in moderation and balance is the key to health and weight loss.  Fancy diets and exercise manuals are just some health guru's way of making money.  
  • Yes, chocolate is acceptable in a healthy diet (but REAL chocolate, not "chocolate-flavored").
Recommendation: Ghiradelli chocolate caramel squares.
  • Free range and organic is not just a racket, but it depends on where one shops.  Read labels.
  • Sometimes you  need help and that is not admitting defeat.  Set up an appointment with that mental health professional.
  • Wine is good.  Just not too much wine.
Recommendation:  Rioja Bordon.

  • Drink lots of water.  Lots of it.
  • One of the best things you can do for your health is to cut out soda.  I know that's not what anyone wants to hear, but there it is.
  • Coconut oil makes the best moisturizer.
  • A mask of avocado, crystalized honey, and lemon juice is better than any beauty product you'll buy from a makeup line. Avocado moisturizes, the honey scrubs, and lemon juice brightens. Seriously, save your money.
  • Olive oil and sugar make a great body scrub.  If you have itchy skin I recommend you try it.
  • Cream highlighters and illuminators cover blemishes better than concealer.
Recommendations: Urban Decay Naked Illuminated Shimmering Powder for Face and Body; Laura Mercier Face Illuminator Powder (both available at Sephora).
  • Wear sunscreen.  Lots of it.
  • Men will say anything to get a woman into bed, even those claiming to be friends.  This is not a criticism, it's just an observation.
  • You really do find out who your friends are in your darkest hour.  The others come back when the drama has passed.
  • Soul mates do exist, just maybe not the way you envision them.  Expanse of time and distance does not sever that connection once it's established.  Sometimes they have fur and four legs.
  • Social media is not a substitute for face-to-face interaction with good friends, good wine, and good food.  Make time for that (and I don't care how addictive Pinterest is).
  • Very few women will stand by their insistence that they will never drop their girlfriends for a man.  Don't be that woman.  Hold on to your girlfriends.
  • If he causes you to drop your girlfriends, then he's not worth it.
  • If you're embarrassed to tell your friends about him, he's not the right one.
  • Make sure one of your good friends is a handyman type.  They are so handy to have around. Be nice to him.  Make him cookies.
  • It is possible to meet the perfect guy at the absolute worst time.
Recommendation:  It's Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You're Single by Sara Eckel.

  • God has a wicked sense of humor.  Be specific or you'll look back and think "Well played, God.  Well played."
  • God really does answer prayers.  You don't see it while it's being done and it may take longer than you'd like, but keep a record of your prayers and look back periodically. 
  • We are not alone.
  • What you believe is no one's business but your own and getting upset with each other for their private spiritual beliefs wastes time and energy because it will never be resolved.
  • Don't use your beliefs or religions as an excuse to be an asshole.  That goes for everyone.
Recommendation: For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

  • First and foremost, always try to show compassion.  It's hard and generally when people are at their worst is when they need compassion the most.
  • We all have different perceptions in every situation.  Your point of view is not the same as someone else's.  Respect that.
  • It's not all about you.  Narcissism may be fashionable, but it is not attractive.
  • Self awareness of your emotional situation is a powerful tool.  I learned I'm an empath. It's answered a lot of questions.
  • The best self-help books out there are F*ck Feelings by Michael Bennett MD and Sarah Bennett; and Talking to Crazy by Mark Goulston.
Recommendations:  See above.

  • Always be open to learning something new.  If you feel stagnant maybe you just need a new challenge.
  • Coding is a great skill to learn in today's day and age.
Recommendation: Codecademy.com
  • Writing well begins with passion.  If you hate writing, you won't write well.  If you hate it, then don't torture yourself with it.  Find something else to do that you like.
  • Learn to garden.  Even if all you have to show at the end of the season is a few tomatoes and one giant zucchini, there really is something satisfying and fulfilling about eating something you've grown yourself.
  • Read nonfiction as well as fiction.
  • America is not full of morons and idiots.  Unfortunately we just can't seem to keep the most ignorant of us off the television and out of reality TV.
  • Don't live outside your means.  Struggling to catch up is miserable.
  • Debt sucks.  If you can, pay your credit card off every month.
  • Not having a monthly car payment is a wonderful feeling.
  • Create a monthly budget.  And STICK TO IT.
  • Always keep some emergency coffee cash on hand.  Stash it somewhere in your house where it can be easily accessed when needed but not tempting to be spent on something useless.
  • Invest in stocks.  But invest in GOOD stocks so do your research.  Or just talk to my dad.
  • Treat yourself occasionally but don't spend money on a lot of useless material things.
  • If there is something your really really want you will find a way to pay for it.
  • Invest in your future.
Recommendation: The Leap: Launching Your Full-Time Career in Our Part-Time Economy by Robert Dickie; The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey; Fidelity.com

And finally, a little quote from William Ritter's The Beastly Bones, the second novel in his Jackaby series (a series I consider extremely clever and deeply underrated): "...the greatest figures in history are never the ones who avoid failure, but those who march chin-up through countless failures, one after the next, until they come upon the occasional victory...Failure is not the opposite of success - it's part of it."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Super Diva

Puckett is most definitely a force to be reckoned with.  She has outsmarted me and I have this uncomfortable feeling that she has done this before at least once and I seem to fall for it every time.

When I got home from Colorado, I knew Puckett wasn't herself and I attributed it to her being angry with me for leaving.  Then she seemed to get steadily worse.  She has sulked in the past in response to me leaving her, but never this long and by the middle of the week she stopped eating completely, wouldn't drink, didn't use the litter box, and spent most of her time facing the wall and ignoring everyone.  I know Puckett well enough to know when she's off and boy, had she been off.   She's not a huge eater, but she is consistent in eating.  She eats a few times a day, a few pieces at a time, and then she will consume water at camel proportions because she only drinks once a day.  She also uses the box like clockwork.  Last Tuesday there was none of that.  Just a very lethargic cat facing the wall and showing no interest in anything.  At one point she did come upstairs and did her "Feed me, I'm starving" dance, but as soon as I put food down, she sniffed it and turned away.  She refused all food, hers, Percy's, the canned food that I thought smelled better than some entrees I've ordered at restaurants (this is grain-free Candidae in various delicious flavors, like rabbit, because if I can't eat gluten, neither can my pets).  Puckett even refused her Greenies treats which she never does.  I also attempted Lysine supplements to help her immune system and she barely glanced at those.

Meanwhile Willow went to town on the canned food and Percy went to town on the Greenies.  No appetite issues there.  One would think those two would be fat as pigs, but they aren't.  One would also think I never feed them.  They eat more than Puckett, she gains all the weight, and they stay slim and trim, proving that the unfairness of weight gain is as much alive in cats as humans.

This morning it was the same deal.  I fed all three cats and Puckett acted like she was hungry, but as soon as I put her bowl down she turned her nose up and walked away.  I am one of those people who Internet-scares herself so all the webpages I read on cats not eating convinced me that a trip to the vet was in order.  The webpages scream if the cat doesn't eat for 24 hours there could be SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG!  BRING YOUR CAT TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID LIVER FAILURE AND BEING BRANDED AS THE WORLD'S WORST PET OWNER! I was doubly worried as my best friend had just lost her cat the same week and that whole fiasco started the exact same way - with a cat refusing to eat or drink and a complete personality change.

Good grief.

Puckett ended up at the vet for the whole day.  I had them examine her, run a whole panel of blood tests, and check all of her vitals and levels.  Everything checked out.  Everything was normal.  The only thing that was concerning was the fact that instead of losing weight from not having eaten in a couple of days, she'd actually gained a few ounces.  Considering she's been moping around like a cat on the brink of a serious illness to say nothing of the skipped meals, I was beside myself with confusion.

We always get hyper-aware of our own pets when a dear friend has just lost her precious pet.  The fact that Puckett's mysterious illness came on the heels of Breyer's passing really freaked me out.

I even had the vet run a feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiancy virus test.  Both came back negative.

A hundred and ten dollars later I'm left asking myself, "What the heck is wrong with this cat?"

The answer?  She's a hypochondriac.  And she's kind of an asshole.  I picked her up after work and took her home where she immediately went into her starving kitty dance, and this time with no lethargy.  I fed all three cats and once again Puckett refused everything.  All three bowls, her food, Percy's food, the canned food.  She continued to dance around and chirp her "feed me" demands.  I finally took some of her food - the stuff she's been eating for years, the stuff she's been turning her nose up for the last two days - and put it on one of my coffee cup saucers.  My elegant white Nespresso saucer to be exact.

She started eating.  She cleared the whole plate.  Then she went downstairs and used the litter box.

Are you kidding me right now?

The rest of the evening she behaved like her old self.  She even sprawled in the middle of the kitchen floor and watched me do dishes with those unblinking eyes almost like she was demonstrating how pleased she was for what she put me through.  She went along her usual nightly business just as though the last few days had never happened.  She even drank her usual gallon of water.

I'm at a loss.  I mean, I can't even right now.

Well played, Puckett.  Well  played.

Puckett - 1; Human - 0

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Bond

My best friend lost her cat this week.  When one is an animal lover few things are more devastating than losing a cherished pet.  I am of the opinion that one can form connections with animals just as powerful as those one can form with humans, and sometimes more so.  You can choose your family (or at least those family members you choose to interact with or choose to acknowledge the existence of), you can choose your friends, but one thing you can't choose is which animal you'll connect with on a spiritual level. They do that for you.  Animals do come and go through one's life, and they are all special, but there are those who transcend special and become almost like an extension of one's soul.

Breyer was like that for my friend.  This tiny six-pound Bengal cat became the one thing sometimes standing between my friend and utter despair.  There were days, when she was going through one of her darkest spells, that she said Breyer was her only bright spot.  She called Breyer her sunshine.  My two best friends and I (the three of us have been best friends for over fifteen years) have gone through many pets over the years and comforted each other through many deaths, but there are those that stand out.  They are the ones that form a deeper connection with us and the ones we feel the loss of just a little more keenly.  I've loved all my pets over the years, but most of them have belonged to other family members like the two ferrets,  Jesse James and Belle Star who belonged to my brother; my first German shepherd, Flag, who was really my parents' dog; the cats, Jasmine, Dukie, Splinter, and the Dachshund, Daphne who all belonged to my mother.  When I moved to Wyoming I adopted two overweight cats, each missing a limb - one her tail, the other a leg.  I loved both those cats but never fully bonded with either one.  By then they might have been too old, dumped at the shelter after the death of the person who they probably really were bonded to.  I do wonder sometimes if that is harder on an animal than it is on a human, to lose their soulmates.  Usually they are unlucky enough to be dumped off at the animal shelter without a second thought.  Many don't get a second chance.

Among my friends' pets were Baroness, Bear, Singer, Tanis, Chipper, and the dogs my friend in Texas went through that she never got completely attached to because she never knew when she would lose them.  The ridiculous school of pugs that belonged to my Colorado friend's mother are in there somewhere too.  At the height of that trend, I walked into their house and was immediately surrounded by at least fifteen snuffling, flat-faced little dogs, annoying but cute as hell.

I think of all these animals with fondness.  They all have a place in my heart, but there are the ones that stand out, for me and for my friends

Mindi, the first cat I ever truly bonded with, was my blue-point Himalayan, my angel cat with mystical abilities.

Colleen was a four-week old tri-color collie puppy I fell in love with when I was fourteen, working at the animal shelter.  My coworkers commented often that she only had eyes for me and would watch me constantly while I went about my work.  I guess she imprinted on me, but unfortunately I lost her four weeks later to parvo.

Grey Lady belonged to my Colorado best friend (the one who lost Breyer), an independent, slightly crazy half-Thoroughbred mare who wouldn't let anyone rider her but my friend, though she'd love on anyone who'd give her the time of day. 

Beauty was my Texas best friend's first horse. I never met her as my friend had her before we became friends, but she still talks about Beauty as the first and only horse she ever bonded with.

There was the nameless red heeler puppy my Texas friend imprinted on a few years ago at a flea market that she was unfortunately unable to adopt.  She said it was love at first, an instant connection, probably a similar feeling I had with Colleen.

Constance, my Texas friend's black cat, was the only one out of forty barn cats her family owned when she was growing up that she felt that strong bond with.

Zulu is the Rottweiler with bone cancer who is the doggy soulmate of my friend here in Wyoming.  She's shared her life with a lot of animals too, but Zulu is the one who's remained constant at least over the years I've known her, the one she describes as having the closest relationship with.

Of course there is Breyer whose bond my best friend can't even begin to describe, that's how strong it was.  Fortunately among friends who know that bond, we are past having to explain it because words are clearly not enough.

And of course the four for me that are still alive - I love all four of them, but Puckett is the one I call my kitty soulmate.  The only other two animals I've felt that strong of a bond with were Mindi and Colleen.  All of my precious darlings get rushed to the vet the moment there is something allegedly wrong, but Puckett is the one I actually feel sympathy pains for, even when she's only faking it and using her status against me when she thinks I'm not paying enough attention to her.  She knows me intimately enough to know how to punish me for leaving her for four days even though she loves me too.  I am her savior after all, having pulled her from the animal shelter, practically  hairless with an upper respiratory infection.  Love can be painful and she is definitely no angel cat like Mindi.  I still can't imagine my life without her.

That bond is what makes us swear we will never own another animal when we've watched a beloved suffer and pass on, yet we go out two, three months later and bring a new friend home, enriching our lives all over again.

It's a devoted pet owner force feeding her cat, every day without fail, a calorie rich diet and water in an effort to keep her alive because she can't bear to watch her starve to death, even when deep down she knows there is nothing else to be done.

It's curling up on the couch with a cat until four in the morning who is in the final hours of her life because that is the only comfort left to offer, until she finally passes on from kidney failure.

It's holding a disease-ravaged puppy in the vet's office as the injection is administered because it's the last act of love left, to be there as the life leaves her.

It's the guilt one feels for not being able to do more, for not catching the illness sooner, for not ending the misery sooner, or trying a different medication, or being supernaturally capable of loving the illness away completely.

And it's the knowledge that one's life will never be the same, but will always be a little bit better, a little bit brighter, and a little bit more worth it for having known them.  We like to think we are their stewards and caretakers, but very often they are the ones taking care of us, keeping us sane and making our lives that much more bearable.

Here's to the animals, the ones that deem us worthy enough to connect to their souls and trust us enough to see into their hearts.  They will never be forgotten and they can never be replaced.  If one is lucky, they get to share their lives with any extraordinary animal.  If one is truly blessed they find a Mindi or a Zulu or a Breyer or a Puckett.  May you all be so blessed.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How Could You Leave Me?!

My pets are very upset with me.  I spent four days in Colorado and came home to four very confused, very irritated animals.  They each compensate in different ways.  Tess is the least affected, I'm afraid to say, as she actually enjoys spending four days being completely spoiled by the Cowboy.  There are no boundaries when the Cowboy is in charge. Whenever I leave town, the Cowboy stays with the animals as he is the only one who can deal with their idiosyncrasies and put up with their codependency.  He is also the only person I trust to take care of the animals the way I do, though of course he falls short from my attentions as anybody would.  In my self-absorbed, egotistical mind no one can care for my pets the way I do, and they are used to a certain style of care and living that only the Cowboy can even hope to duplicate only because he was crazy enough to stay in a relationship with  me for three years.  He also continues to hang around despite the fact that our relationship is over and only friendship remains.

Of course he is also "Fun Dad" and doesn't enforce any of the rules and boundaries the pets are used to following.

I don't think Tess could bear a complete dissolution of my friendship with the Cowboy.  If I sent him away she would no doubt demand custody visits.

Because of this Tess is fine, if a bit clingier than usual.  It's the cats who are pissed.

Percy makes his displeasure known by being twice as obnoxious in yowling when using the litter box, terrorizing Willow twice as much, and making himself generally unpleasant though he still puts on a fairly good show of rubbing against my ankles and purring up a storm whenever he's near me.  When I leave the room he begins his mischief.  He's very obsessed with the Christmas ornaments and makes every effort to abuse them whenever he thinks he can get away with it.  The other night I heard a slight creak and went downstairs only to find Percy sitting on the table attempting to attack the garland wrapped around the railing overlooking the bottom level of my townhouse.  He jumped down as soon as he saw me so I know that he knows what he is and is not allowed to do.  He just enjoys pushing the envelope, and more so now that he is sure I deserve it anyway.  The look he shot me as he minced off was nothing short of a satisfied smirk.

He also lets me know that the Cowboy is the current favorite when he comes over.  Percy runs to him when he opens the door.  When I come home from work, Percy merely glares at me from his perch on his kitty shelf.

The nerve of me, going away for four days.

Puckett is very angry.  She has been a snotty bitch for two days now.  She refuses to purr when I try to snuggle her.  She makes a show of marching into the bathroom in the morning and giving me the "feed me" look, yet refuses to spend any more time in my presence than she has to.  She sits with her back to me rather than trying to crawl into my lap.  She comes slowly to the food bowl and eats with an air of reluctance, as though she wishes to punish me for leaving.  She doesn't come when I call as usual.  I have to go looking for her and then she challenges me with that unblinking gaze of hers, as if daring me to try and pet her.  She has never been a mean or aggressive cat. but one definitely knows when she is displeased with one's actions.  Where she is usually sweet and ready for a cuddle, she becomes aloof and distant.  She turns her head away, twists an ear to the side, gazes off in the distance or else looks right through one.  Getting back in her good graces always takes a few days and I'm lucky if she doesn't poop in my shoe.

And to add insult to injury, for the last two weeks she has been sleeping downstairs in the living room beside the heater while I watch my movies and work on my writing.  These last two days since I got back she has very pointedly been sleeping upstairs on the dog bed and refusing to have anything to do with me.

Willow is the opposite.  Instead of behaving angrily and sullenly, she is twice as clingy as usual.  Truly one has not felt the true impact of a cat who misses her human desperately than when one is attempting her Pilates and her cat is unashamedly under her nose.  I performed my twenty minutes of Pilates last night.  I did not do it alone.  I attempted the Saw.  Willow climbed up onto my extended leg and purred, trying to touch my nose with hers.  I flattened my back to stretch out my shoulders and Willow danced underneath my chest and ran her tail under my nose, making me sneeze.  Child's Pose turned into Cat Curled Between the Elbows Pose.  I did a thigh stretch and Willow's butt was in my face.  The Cat Stretch was performed with an actual cat beneath me.  Downward Dog became Upward Cat as she rolled under my face and stared lovingly up at me, purring as loudly as she could muster.  I finished my routine with some abdominal exercises while Willow rolled around on the carpet beside me, having a really good time doing her own Kitty Pilates.

I think I will probably think twice before leaving again.  I'm not sure I can handle the drama upon return.  I try to behave as though nothing has changed and keep things at status quo in order minimize the trauma of my leaving and returning, but it doesn't do any good.  Leaving my four codependent darlings just throws everything into disarray and urges them to the edge of collapse.  It doesn't help that we are now under a winter advisory and two weeks away from Christmas.  Between the barometric pressure and all the sparkly ornaments everywhere, along with the fact that I was gone for four days (might as well have been four years), my animals are complete basket cases.

I've already put in the order for four straitjackets.  Thank God for catnip and doggy biscuits both of which are shamelessly begged for at all hours, and freely given.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tuning Out

My pets have stopped listening to me.

Don't get me wrong.  I have never been under the delusion that they listen to me much at all, but they have, over the years, learned a little bit of discipline that keeps them mostly off the furniture, out of the trash can, and for the most part, from sitting on my face at night while I sleep.

 Not that they don't push buttons every chance they get.

I am lucky in the sense that, given what I've viewed in other homes, my animals don't really run the show (ha ha ha ha).  I just let them believe they do, like Puckett.  (Of course as I write this, Tess is licking the recycling bin).  Puckett believes she is queen bee and then is genuinely shocked (and disgusted) when I demonstrate an air of discipline, demanding she stop doing something she isn't supposed to be doing.

For example, the rule in my house for as long as I've had the cats is that they are perfectly welcome on the bed.  They are just not welcome at the head of the bed near the pillows.  They are certainly not allowed ON the pillows.  I have allergies and rather than get rid of the cats, I assume that moving their furry proximity down towards the feet will relieve these allergies somewhat.  Silly human, I know, but it was worth a shot.  The cats have recognized this rule for some time now until recently.  I found Puckett one morning sacked out lengthwise along the pillow, her head practically resting on it.  When I picked her up to move her back to her designated area, she dug all four sets of claws into the bedspread letting me know that if she is going to be moved, the bedspread is going with her.  I moved them all into a pile onto the foot of the bed.  She removed herself from the pile and marched back up to the head of the bed, shooting me a look that was the equivalent to a middle finger at twelve.

As if that wasn't bad enough, she has taught Willow to follow her example.  They are all constantly teaching each other bad habits.  Now Willow and Puckett are sacked out alongside my pillows, shedding as much hair and dander as they can that if I don't vacuum the bedspread every night before I got to bed I will surely suffocate, or at the very least wake up in the middle of the night with the feeling of a cat sitting on my face.

Tess, who has been an angel lately on walks and in the dog park alike, managed to break away from me the other day and run down the poor mailman.  In her defense she did listen to me the first time I hissed at her and told her no and to stay. She stayed.  For a second.  Then the temptation became too much for her and she barreled into the poor man, begging for a scratch behind the ears.  Luckily for me and for her, the man was a dog sucker and Tess is not one of those dogs that hates uniforms. Usually when I let her run loose and I tell her to stay or to leave something she is very good about following orders.  I could almost see her middle finger as she pranced away from me, tail waving, to insist on her position as center of the universe to the mailman.

Plants are off limits to the pets in my house and they know it.  I have one that sits on a shelf inaccessible to the cats.  It's been there for at least four years.  I inherited this poor plant from the library.  Up until about a week ago it has sat in its space unmolested.  Now Willow has figured out how to get up on the lower shelf in order to reach up and gnaw the lowest hanging leaves off the plant.  She left a trail of them the other night for me to find when I got home from work,  I blamed Percy since he's the one who usually attacks anything that isn't edible and then mopes around for hours with a bellyache.  I caught Willow today clambering up onto the shelf and sniffing through the leaves.  There were teeth marks in several of the leaves.  I told her no and shooed her away, then went back to my book.  Not a minute later she was up there again, more quietly I might add, chewing on the leaves.

It has always amazed me that a cat can sound like a herd of elephants when stampeding through the house, but when they are getting into something they shouldn't they are basically soundless.  I have lived with the little beasts long enough that I can pretty much sense when they are doing something they shouldn't.

Willow has also began to systematically dismantle her cage at night when I'm asleep.  She does this at the decibel level only a gnat can hear.

Tin foil has taken care of the problems currently, both with the bed and the plant shelf.  When I resort to tin foil (it's not the first time), I really get daggers and a middle finger shot my way through three pairs of eyeballs.  The Cowboy has reinforced the cage and Tess, well, she may have to go back to leash-walking if she can't control herself enough not to mow down every friendly face that happens across her path.

Of course, if she is going to stop listening to me and start running people down, the least she can do is find a hot guy that is suitable husband material.

Why these guys don't use their powers for good is beyond me.  After all I feed them and provide them with a warm place to sleep.  One would think I've earned something.