Friday, August 10, 2007

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Throughout my life I have always been a cat person, but out of circumstance rather than preference. When I was very young, we had cats as pets, although my mother's insistence that they be allowed to roam freely meant that they all came to a gory end.

Once I was out on my own and could keep my pets indoors, I got cats because they fit quite neatly into my lifestyle. Between mutiple jobs and neverending social commitments, I couldn't keep anything that needed to be walked regularly or my carpet would have been a minefield of "accidents."

I was around a lot of dogs, though, so I developed a deep affection for them. As a kid, I did dog walking for the neighbors. Once I got my horse, I discoved that big dogs (always multiple) are a staple of life at barns. I got quite close to many of the barn canines. My favorite was Zack, an enthusiastic and uncannily smart German Shepherd, although I loved Fidette, the bouncy little golden lab, too. Here in Florida there are two big barn dogs to give me a doggy "fix."

I still would love to have a dog of my own, but since marriage my lifestyle has only gotten busier. Thus, my housepets are still of the feline persuasion (plus a bird), but I dream of owning a nice shepherd or adopted greyhound someday.

In the meantime, Duloc Manor is the scene of temporary canine residency, as I am babysitting a friend's Pomeranian (much to the consternation of Stitch, Farquaad, and Tooncinator). Poor little Roscoe, the dog, is far outweighed by my feline bruisers. Farquaad has to be close to 20 pounds, so when I pick up the Pom it feels life hefting a child's toy.

We adopted Stitch from a shelter (where, true to his name, his cage was labeled "Not for adoption"), so I don't know if he was ever around dogs. He's pretty laid back around them; he arches his back a bit on first sight as though saying, "Don't mess with me!" but if the dog doesn't pose a threat he pretty much ignores it after his initial display. We've had Quaad from kittenhood, so the only dogs he knows are the ones he's seen in our household. Our next door neighbors have a micro-canine to whom he has been introduced on a limited basis. Tooncinator came from a household with multiple giant gallomping mutts, but since his feral mother kept the kittens hidden far behind the furniture, I doubt he saw anything but his tiny cubbyhole.

The Quaad/Stitch feline duo was a bit put out when Roscoe first showed up. But he stayed with us once before, and I suspect their fuzzy kitty memories finally surfaced and they realized that he didn't pose a threat. Now, they markedly ignore him in a studied, arrogant feline way. I think that Farquaad would like to play with him, but he's not sure to go about it. He perches on the coffee table as Roscoe sleeps on the carpet below. He'll drop a sneaky paw to bat the little Pom's back. Roscoe will feel the tap and look up, but by then Quaad is sitting like an innocent little angel with a, "Who, me? I didn't do anything!" expression on his face.

Stitch does a lot of sniffing back and forth. He's too cool to engage in stealthy contact; he just walks up and does a mutual whiff. Tooncinator is holed up under the bed upstairs, which isn't really all that different than his normal routine. He usually comes down for a short period each day to eat, but I set up food and water in the master bath so he does have to fear the vicious, deadly visitor who might lick him to death.

Farquaad did have one traumatic moment. I crate Roscoe while I am so the feline brusiers can't rough him up. I've seen Quaad and Stitch "playing"with each other, and it's something akin to wrestlers in the throes of roid rage. They have their teeth and claws, while the dog is quite ancient and nearly toothless, so he'd be helpless if they decided to include him in their reindeer games. I brought in my big animal cage in which he transported the three cats from Chicago to Celebration and set it up in the familyroom. Quaad took one look at the cage and took off for parts unknown, leaving flaming tracks in his wake. It's been four years and he still has flashbacks!

Other than that, life has been relatively peaceful. The only big differences are a little wet nose poking my hand every now and then for attention (vs. big furry bodies springing into my lap...unlike Roscoe, my cats are not schooled in the art of subtlety) and another pair of Puss-in-Boots eyes (would that be Pom-in-Boots?) when I am rummaging in the fridge.

Our yard isn't fenced, but thankfully Roscoe is a good little boy. He's a cushy couch potato who would never dream of running beyond the yard's boundaries. He does his business and runs right back in.

It's enjoyable to have another furry "kid" visiting, but it serves another purpose too. Having to remember to be home regularly to take the dog out reminds me quite graphically why Duloc Manor is normally an exclusively feline zone. Oh well, someday I'll have that greyhound...someday, if life ever settles down!

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