It's mornings like these I'm glad I can't understand what my pets are trying to tell me. I mean, yes, it is clear that they're indicating that it's time for me to leave. They want free and unfettered access to their house. That was made clear when Cayenne started shoving a few books, blankets, pillows and sundry off the shelf above the bed. More clear, when said items started landing on my head.
Wickett has been practicing his snoring. He's always had an impressive bark:weight ratio, but the snore:weight ratio really takes the cake.
And my dear, sweet Fiona... Must you really sleep on me? It's a king size bed, after all... There's a lot of extra room.
I don't suppose I should expect my pets to respect my right to a few extra minutes of beauty sleep after a late night herding electrons. I mean... how are they to know I wasn't just watching Sneakers last night for the 300th time to amuse myself?
Onward and upward! Let's see what this day has to offer... At least there'll be a few miles between me and these crazy critters...
After being completely or partially incapacitated for nearly two months, it felt great to do something last night. Two somethings, actually... I changed the oil in the RX-8 and I replaced the ignition element in my upstairs furnace.
The oil change went Exxon Valdez when the cold temps apparently took their toll on my catch pan and caused it to spring a small leak. Even after the impressive spill in part one of the fiasco, I then tried to drop the pan on the other side of the garage, catching it just in time to merely slosh more oil out... Fortunately we have kitty litter. Even more fortunately, it was still out in the garage.
I hope the climate in the house will be a little better balanced with both furnaces running without us having to resort to opening the bedroom door (and thus, releasing the invisible cat to do mischief throughout the house...).
I knew it was cold outside this morning. The long blasts of hot air blowing from the furnace are fair warning that it is cold out there. No need to check the thermometer... The last couple Dallas winters have been blissfully mild, sparing us the indignity of real and proper cold weather. We're currently in the midst of a solid cold streak, and Thursday and Friday are currently forecast to provide sub-freezing high temperatures.
I got a further hint of that chill that awaited me outside when Fiona was a little extra snuggly after returning from her early morning outing with Amanda, and I got poked in the shoulder with a bitterly cold wet nose.
When the time rolled around to pack up and head for the office, I went to round up the dogs and move them to their respective holding areas. Fiona was waiting in her crate for me to come close (or forget to close) the door.
But, no Wickett. I checked the usual spots... He wasn't sleeping on the litter box. He wasn't curled up on Amanda's pillow. He wasn't on the throw rug in front of the shower. How odd... I started to go check if he had escaped to go nap on his bed in the living room when I heard the blankets snoring...
Within 24 hours of Fiona coming to live with us, I had her enrolled in obedience school. I wasn't given a choice in this matter — neither by Amanda, nor by Fiona.
Fiona was brilliant at obedience school. Well... mostly... There were two very small issues. One stemmed from her insane drive. She loves to play. She wants to play. More. More. More! The other, I suspect, stems from her separation anxiety. She just doesn't like to stay. But Alicia helped me with those issues and helped make Fiona and incredibly well behaved, well mannered (OK, so, we had to work on some manners issues, too...) dog. Fiona really enjoyed going to obedience school. Alicia believes in dogs that are well socialized — not just with other people, but with other dogs. Playtime! Fiona was always a laugh riot during playtime. Watching her herd a trio of German Shepards into a corner was priceless.
Once Fiona "graduated" from basic obedience, she qualified to go to Agility school. There, we learned that maybe, just possibly, we hadn't quite solved the "stay" or, for that matter, gotten a big enough dose of focus to complement the drive. So we did some more obedience work in the outdoor environment at the new facility. And all seemed well.
And we started agility work. And Fiona loved it. Over the fences. Through the tunnels. Over the A-frames. Over the dog walks. Even through the occasional weave pole.
Did I mention, however, that in the field adjacent to Dallas Dog Sports there were llamas? Oddly, Border Collies classify other non-Border Collie Shaped Objects™ into only one of two categories... Sheep or Not Sheep. Llamas were quite clearly Sheep — Sheep who very much needed herding.
Here's how it played out... We'd show up for class or for a practice session. Patty would demonstrate the course or obstacle we'd be working. It would be our turn. Fiona would be anxious to run the course. I'd release her and give commands and run along side and then Snap! Off for the hedgerows runs the Border Collie. She'd pull a few laps of the facility and finally come back. It was funny once or twice.
"Don't chase her," Patty would encourage. "She's trying to get you to play with her."
Unfortunately, as we now know, Fiona can entertain herself for long hours. There are times I'm pretty sure she has invisible playmates that run and chase with her.
But, one night... a lady training at the facility was wearing Jingle Bells on her shoes. The combo of Jingle Bells + llamas (Sheep!) was just too much. Fiona not only ran laps, but started rallying the other dogs to join with her in the great Border Collie uprising. We were asked, quite politely, to maybe consider taking up crochet. It seemed like a good idea. Fiona made a great transition to lap dog.
In the next installment, we'll learn about some famous WMD adventures... And perhaps I'll even share why I keep calling her the WMD...
Started off today in the "normal" way — straight to the shower. Between temps outside at the moment and the presumed schedule for the day, there's not much shot at getting on the bike, so I might as well feel clean and awake today. I miss my shower at the house, but I'll be seeing it soon, I suppose.
Currently, there's a battle taking place on my lap. Maggie, the Jack Russell, and Max, the Chiweenie, both think they want to be on my lap more than my laptop does.
They may be right...
Check Facebook tomorrow to find out Where The Fugawi!
Click here to see the conversation that will occur in my house in about 38 hours...
First, thank you all for the e-mails, text messages, phone calls and pats on the (thankfully mostly healed) shoulder. Thank you, Pat, for being a friend in time of need. I've gotta heal up so I can spend more time riding with you.
Second, I've reached a conclusion. It helps this mortal human to be there when his pet slips the mortal coil. One minute, she was lying on the table, desperately trying to sit up to see what was going on and loudly participate in the festivities. And then she was gone. Only the lifeless body remained. And then she was the massive collection of memories and nothing more. We'll miss ya, Maggie. You had a great run, though, and we're pretty sure you never held back - always told us exactly what you thought. Or at least that's what I think all that yowling was.
Third, I'm trying to come up something sadder than driving around with an empty PetPorter™. If you know what it is, please don't share. I don't think I want to know.
We moved into this house in 2001. It wasn't long after that Hobbes, our Big Orange Cat™, made a break for it, and we became frequent visitors of the Plano Animal Shelter. We're optimists. He never showed. But, one fateful day, these two ladies plunked down on the counter in a crate. Their owner started rambling on with some story about "the girlfriend blah blah blah" to the staff and I just said, "go put them in my car." The lady behind the desk stopped him talking, and sent him out to the parking lot with me.
I wasn't about to let two 11+ year old ladies step into the pound. They weren't, shall we say, prime adoption candidates. And there was a wicked run of respiratory infection passing through the pound. So they came home, snuggled away in the spare bedroom, and I braced for the impending murder of my person when Amanda came home and found them.
Did I mention that we were optimists? She had already been to the pound on the way home. They had already ratted me out.
"Your husband did the sweetest thing," they said.
"Not my husband," she confidently told them.
"You have to promise not to kill me," I told her.
"Why would I kill you, dear?" she asked. Ah... deceit! It's such sweet pleasure.
We tried integration. But the ladies had and have maintained a strict anti-dog posture. So we've had upstairs cats (the ladies), bedroom cats (Holly & Cayenne) and the dogs (Wickett & Fiona).
Maggie... It's gonna be awfully quiet without you upstairs yelling at us every night.
Maddie was the first to lose the battle to aging. She left with dignity. On a Wednesday she was her normal, aloof, eating, vociferous self. By Friday, she wasn't eating or drinking, and it was clear her body wasn't processing nutrients anymore. We took her for her last visit to our vet across the street on Saturday morning. Maddie was a strange little cat. She was at her calmest and most relaxed at the vet's office.
Eight hours from now, Maggie and I will go see Pat. It will not help that Pat is my friend. It will not help that I know Pat is a great lover and healer of animals. It will not help that I know that Maggie deserves this painless exit and doesn't need to suffer wondering why it hurts.
But I know that anytime I sit down with a guitar, I'll be expecting the onset of feline criticism just any moment now for the rest of my life. Every time I change guitar strings, I'll be expecting her to come sit down in the sound hole, just any moment now for the rest of my life. When I get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water, I'll be waiting as I turn on the kitchen light for a very surprised "upstairs" cat to bolt past me back upstairs, just any moment now for the rest of my life.
And that's better.
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
One final note... Sometimes the mind remembers things incorrectly. This poem is one that I always mis-remember. My brain always comes back with "Do not go quietly into that good night." Maggie has never gone quietly anywhere. Keep yowling, young cat!
When I say to move, it means go someplace else, not switch positions with each other so there are still two of you in the way.
The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest. The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a race track. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help, because I fall faster than you can run.
I cannot buy anything bigger than a king size bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue to sleep on the couch to ensure your comfort. Look at videos of dogs and cats sleeping, they can actually curl up in a ball. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space used is nothing but sarcasm.
My compact discs are not miniature Frisbees.
For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob, or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. In addition, I have been using bathrooms for years, canine attendance is not mandatory.
The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dogs' butt. I cannot stress this enough. It would be such a simple change for you.
To pacify you I have posted the following message on our front door...
Rules for Non-Pet Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About Our Pets
They live here. You don't. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.
I like my pet a lot better than I like most people.
To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and speaks clearly.
Dogs and cats are better than kids. They eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about buying the latest fashions, don't wear your clothes, don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and if they get pregnant, you can sell the results.
At some point in your life, you've been accused of getting up on the wrong side of the bed. Amanda and I recently decided that, perhaps, we were each sleeping on the wrong side of the bed.
Several truths have become evident during the first few days following swapping sides of the bed.
One. Certain male members of this household have poor short term memory. On a similar note, I don't seem to be competent in operating complicated electronic devices like alarm clocks. I guess I'll have to move it.
Two. Certain four legged mammals were not, it seems, attracted to Amanda, but rather just to her side of the bed. I'm sure she's horribly disappointed in this discovery, but I'm also sure she's enjoying the sleep since now it's Wickett tap dancing on my hip while she snickers quietly in her "sleep."
Three. Fiona has the ability to alter the universal gravitational constant. Actually, I think Amanda has been aware of this for some time now, but around 3 o'clock this morning, I was surprise to awaken and discover a 300 pound weight atop my shins. Not bad for a 43 pound border collie.
Four. Holy crap, it's hot. That has nothing to do with what side of the bed we're all sleeping on, but it just is. If you're in, say... Montana, and need a quality, well rounded technology guy and a super-awesome biology teacher... please use the Contact Us links!