Cats and Dogs

There’s never a dull moment in our house. Me, wife, five kids, a cat, a dog… Oh, yeah. We got a dog.

I’m still not sure how this all came about. One of the children, I think, started talking about how nice it would be to have a dog. The Miracles of Christ don’t think we quite have enough going on in our house or in our lives. Between elementary school and high school, we have someone at home learning remotely five days a week. Wife is still working from home. Someone needs to go to school for a tutoring session at least two days a week. On top of that, there are the daily responsibilities of keeping the house clean. Now the children want to throw another pet into the mix.

We got a dog.

I reminded the children of the additional responsibilities that come with a dog, responsibilities that require getting out of bed before 11:00. No problem. They can do it. They will remember to feed the dog and walk the dog. These kids can’t remember to turn off a light when they leave a room but they’ll remember to take care of another animal.

It’s okay. They’ve got this. They’re going to take care of the dog. I voice my concerns, which are seriously considered by all before we start looking online for another member of our ever-growing family. We find a puppy at a local shelter. We sign up for our socially-distanced appointment. Before that, it’s off to the bank for a second mortgage and then the pet store where we buy up every dog supply the store has to offer. Wife and I are a little apprehensive now since there are no guarantees we will go home with a dog.

Who’s walking who?

We get the dog. Doggie hangs out in the office with wife where she whines and whimpers. Wife stops her business presentation to explain to the listeners we have yet another addition to the family and God forbid we don’t give her our undivided attention every waking moment.

Walking the dog is a treat. The dog fights us leaving the house and down the driveway and around the block. I’m trying to get Doggie to pee or poop. I don’t need to clean another mess in this house. Wife and I had a dog before. That dog took out three chew toys, five rugs, two mats, a bookcase, and the entire floor of one room. Some of these casualties are from chewing. Some are from peeing. Wife and I are especially vigilant about walking the dog.

We took Doggie to a check-up to make sure she’s healthy and alright. She has an ear infection. Fun times. The vet said we need to make sure her teeth are clean. The Oppressed has offered to share her toothbrush. I immediately vetoed that offer.

On the plus side, we have a fenced-in yard and our compost pile (We’re such good citizens of the Earth) is also fenced off. We have that to give Doggie a space to run around and expend some energy.

The family, especially the children are excited about this addition, especially one of the Gaggle, who has immediately adopted Doggie as yet another support animal. Speaking of support animals, Kitty is not pleased with this fellow four-legged creature. She is on alert every time she sees Doggie. Bristled fur, arched back, puffy tail. The whole bit. The truth is Puppy is just as scared of Kitty as Kitty is of Puppy. They’re both little timid animals who want protection from the other. What could possibly go wrong?

The Family Meets St. Nicholas

(Based on “A Visit From St. Nicholas/’Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house. Kitty was purring. She’d just killed a mouse.

My glasses were cleaned and laid out with care in hopes that bourbon and beer would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of more screens danced in their heads.

Wife on her side of the bed. Me on mine. Wondering how long ’til a child climbs in.

When down in the kitchen there was such a clatter. I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Turned on the light. Blind from the flash. Hand over face to see who it is.

The moon outside shone on the snow gave a luster of midday to objects below.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but The Gaggle, The Boy, The Oppressed in good cheer.

They poured out some eggnog, so lively and quick. I shooed them to bed. Here comes St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came. And I shooed and scattered as I called them by name.

Now Lovie, now Slugger, now Slapshot and screwball. Junior and Dearie, make haste down the hall. Go to your rooms. Get in your beds. Make not a peep. Just rest your heads.

I wanted to throw them, to make them fly.

There was a lack of hustle. They just rolled their eyes.

Meanwhile, I heard a sleigh slow to stop

Eight not-so-tiny-deer resting on top.

A Christmas vision

The sleigh-driver hopped off. Claus and bag, too

I hoped that bag had a bottle, brand new.

Something nice, tasty and strong.

Something enjoyed after homework gone wrong.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

Kitty was watching. She just had to look.

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

Toys for everyone. Jills and Jacks.

His eyes—how they twinkled as gifts were dispersed!

He sung to himself a nice Christmas verse.

His droll little mouth carried the tune

As the Christmas Star rose high over the moon.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

Made me grateful he wasn’t vaping. What a relief

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was gen’rous and kind, a right jolly old man,

With a bottle of single malt scotch in each hand.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

I asked him to stay for some Christmas cheer.

He politely declined, then waved to our Dears.

The children had been right there standing behind us.

By the time I looked back, Santa had left us.

The Miracles of Christ stood there and smiled.

The Boy pointed and asked, “Is this one my pile?”

But I hope you enjoy your own Christmas night.

Happy Christmas to all. Daddy’s tired. Good night.

Happy Christmas!

Doggie May Care

“Walkin’ the dog. I’m just a-walkin’ the dog.” – Rufus Thomas

My children are enterprising. They are constantly seeking new ways to be productive. Whether it’s a way to make money or a way to give back to the community, they are able to come up with ways to improve the world or save up for something they would like to buy.

The Oppressed is usually the one who comes up with these ideas. She thought it would be a great idea to have a lending library on our property. It has been a hit with people in our neighborhood and beyond. There is barely enough room to fit any more books sometimes. That’s when I make a few selections and make room for the next person who wants to come along and be generous. I help her help others.

The latest idea from The Oppressed was a dog-sitting service. Wife would see messages on social media from people looking for someone to take care of Spot or Fluffy for a period of time while they went away. They would come with their pooch a few days before the vacation so doggie and The Oppressed could get acclimated to each other. It seems like a good fit. Doggie returns at the set time for the actual visit and The Oppressed goes to work.

Wife and I help out at times with the dog. We have a little experience with keeping a dog. We had one a long time ago. This dog was a handful. He singlehandedly pulled up the floor on our porch. He chewed bookcases and clawed doors. I think we went through four rugs in our house because he kept peeing. I could go on and maybe I will in another installment of these fantastic adventures, but the point is that Wife and I are experienced when it comes to dealing with problem pets.

At least three dogs who have entered our house during this endeavor have left us presents at various times in various places in our house. One dog tried to mark his territory on a mesh-wire wastebasket. We’ve also had some other problems like a dog whose breath was so bad we could smell their breath from the opposite side of the room. I bought some dental chews hoping it would help things. It didn’t. The dog would want to lick us and we would have a stench on our legs or feet or whatever doggie was trying to lick. We felt bad about it but the dog smelled bad.

Small dog

I sometimes will join The Oppressed on a morning walk with the dog of the moment. It gives me a chance to get some exercise and talk to the Oppressed. Of course, nothing in going on and everything is great. The same story, by the way, with the older children. You’re obviously reading from half of the greatest parenting combo in the history of Parenting. Our kids are great. Nothing is wrong. They’re great. It’s obvious Wife and I are wonderful.

Of course, there was one time my status as wonderful, perfect parent may have come into jeopardy. In the middle of one night, one particular tenant was being restless and whimpering. Wife and I were woken up by the sounds of a pained pooch. I thought the dog maybe needed to be walked, so I got dressed and took the dog for a walk. This was a strong, good-sized dog and they posed some challenges for me as we saw a skunk up the street. I was able to hold on to the dog and save the both of us from getting sprayed. We returned home. The dog was still whimpering but not as much as before we left the house. Wife and I told The Oppressed about the midnight walk and she was most displeased when she found out I walked the dog without her. This, of course, was her job and she should have been included in this situation that had arisen in the middle of the night. I thought I was doing her a favor. I should have known better.

Big dog

My Cat won’t Behave

We’re having some issues with Kitty. I don’t know if she’s entering adolescence (she’s 15 months old) or if we have a bona fide psycho kitty on our hands.

Our little angel. Just don’t ask Wife.

There is still a matter of who, exactly, Kitty belongs to. Technically, The Boy got her for his birthday. Being home, I spent a lot of time bonding with Kitty. One of The Gaggle thinks Kitty belongs to them. They will take Kitty to their room. They will pick her up in front of me and tell her how nobody loves her more than them and they are the only one who cares about her. I say that’s a little immature and insecure on their part. The Gaggle says, “No it’s not!” The Gaggle goes to their room, this time, they don’t bring Kitty with them. I take this opportunity to spend a minute with Kitty. I pick her up, rub her head, and tell her who really loves her.

Kitty will also spend time with me and wife at night. This can be good. This can be bad. It’s bad for Wife. I think Kitty likes Wife more than she likes me. Wife disputes this but facts are facts. Kitty is always spending more time with her. It’s nice until Kitty jumps on Wife. This seems to happen just as wife is falling asleep. Wife is peaceful and rested and then Kitty comes into the room and jumps on Wife. Wife is rudely awakened. Specific threats are made regarding Kitty’s future in this world.

Wife likes to keep a cup of water on her nightstand. Kitty knows this. Kitty likes water; Not the water in her own dish, but she likes water. It has become a point of contention between Wife and Kitty. Kitty sees the cup of water. Kitty can’t pick up the cup so she will try to stick her face in the cup to drink it. More often than not, the water will end up out of the cup and on the floor. This always seems to happen early in the morning, two or three hours before Wife is supposed to get up.

One time, Wife thought she had a good idea and put two books on top of the cup of water. Kitty couldn’t see what was in the cup, so she tried to get the books off of the cup for a better look. As a result, everything, books, cup, and contents of said cup were knocked to the floor. Wife cursed Kitty’s name. I hustled Kitty out of the room and closed the door. Kitty was meowing at the door, doubtlessly to see if Wife was alright. I got towels from the bathroom and helped clean up what I could. Kitty is still meowing from the other side of the door. I tell Wife that Kitty is only trying to apologize. Wife didn’t believe me.

Rightfully Mine

I find myself losing more and more to a certain child in my home.

One of “The Gaggle” has been with us for a few months and this child has since infringed on things, animals, and people that I hold dear. This person is a nice person: Helps when we need it, asks for help when they need it. They even ask when they need or want to use something. But sometimes…

Kitty and I have taken a liking to each other. I had always been a “Dog Person” until Kitty came to us. With The Wife at work and the Miracles of Christ at school, it was just me and her. We hung out. She kept me company while I folded clothes, washed dishes or cooked. I would wake up with her on or next to me. A couple of confirmed kills in the Mouse Department have cemented her standing as a beloved member of our household.

The Gaggle will run into the house, sometimes body-checking me out of the way. She will yell, “Kitty!” and find her and pick her up. She will cuddle Kitty and make sure I see them in a moment of tender cuddling. The Gaggle smiles. Kitty and I are not amused.

Exhibit A

I once got a Nintendo Switch for my birthday. I use it when I can. The Miracles of Christ have a new found interest in video games. God forbid The Boy plays Pac-Man or Space Invaders with me. (He’s still learning and I try to keep it simple for him.) Everyone, including The Gaggle wants my Switch and “The Legend of Zelda”. It was nice when I wanted to kill a few minutes with the game. I constantly hear a knock on the door. “Do you have ‘Zelda’?” “Can I use it?” “Can I use it now?” “Are you done, yet?” Now, I can barely get my hands on it. It got so bad, Wife bought me another Switch and is considering buying another copy of “Zelda”. I would rather defend what’s rightfully mine. It’s gone so well thus far.

Exhibit B

My cat. My Switch. My wife… Yeah. My wife, too. At the end of the day, The Gaggle and Wife will sit down to some insipid, mind-numbing television show that has since been cancelled (big surprise). I used to get some time alone at the end of the day with Wife. Now, she has decided to kill brain cells with The Gaggle while The Boy and The Oppressed explain to me why they need to sleep in my bed.

Kitty

My family owns a cat. She was a birthday present for The Boy, who loves cats and always wanted one. We’ve had Kitty for over a year.

Kitty leaves no stone unturned when she is searching the house for mice and other pests.

Kitty and I came to bond over time. It happens when you’re a stay-at-home parent and you stay at home. Kitty learned her way around the house. At feeding time, Kitty gets excited when she hears the silverware drawer open. If she doesn’t hear the silverware drawer open, I walk into whatever room she’s in and show her the fork. Kitty gets excited and follows me with a purr to her bowl.

Kitty is sometimes too friendly for the other people in the house. Kitty will fall asleep on Wife. If Wife tries to get out of bed, Kitty sometimes doesn’t want to get off her and sometimes will get in her way.

She can also be found with The Boy sometimes. The Boy will wake up and see Kitty at the foot of his bed. He will get up, grab Kitty and lay back down, handling her like a little teddy bear. Kitty’s eyes get big and her paws reach for something-anything- as she feels herself fall backwards onto the bed and The Boy.

Kitty likes to explore. Sometimes it’s hard to find her. Shake a jar of treats. You’ve never seen anything move so fast, although there was this one time I was working early in the morning. Kitty was trying to negotiate her way across my table. I was trying to write and drink coffee and keep a pile of books from toppling over. Kitty was doing well until she hit something and started to fall over. I stuck my hand out to catch her. I didn’t get her but, well… She peed. I ran to the bathroom and washed my hands three or four times. After some warm water, a little soap, a Brillo pad, some turpentine, and a blowtorch, I think I was alright.