If you’re an animal lover like me, you know that critters aren’t like family – they are family.
But all families have issues, and since my day job is watching over our house beasts, it can be challenging.
As you might know, we have an 11-year old Sheltie named Charlie; two shelter cats, The Mighty Thor, God of Thunder (four) and Bane (18 months); and a rescue Chihuahua, Steve Rogers, Captain America. He’s also 18 months old.
Usually, it’s wonderful having four animals to hang with. There’s lots of belly rubs and skitches, and sometimes (many times, really) the company of a four-legged friend is the best company of all.
However, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.
Sometimes it’s broken glasses and vomit.
To be fair, Charlie’s not much of a problem. He’s always been a low-key fellow and now that he’s getting on in years, he spends a lot of his time sprawled on the floor sleeping.
And since he’s a senior citizen in “human years,” he considers himself retired so other than yelling at the television and asking me if I’ve seen his glasses, he doesn’t exert a lot of energy.
He does find time, however, to raid the litter box which – as you might imagine – is disgusting. Of course it’s not disgusting to him, which makes it even more disgusting to me.
I try not to judge but, damn, that’s gross.
Watching out for Thor is normally a breeze. He’s very loving, and enjoys nothing more than curling up in my lap. But he’s also extremely skittish. If you sneeze, he runs away in a panic, only to be found later trembling in a corner while smoking a cigarette.
He is a fan of heights, though, so I have to keep my head on a swivel to make sure he doesn’t jump up on the dresser and knock things off.
When I hear the sound of a broken glass in the middle of the night, I can blame it on him.
Also when I smell smoke, I know Thor is nervous and has fired one up.
Bane is a bit more high maintenance. He’s a shredder and plunderer, and I have a hard time preventing him from doing either.
We have several pieces of wicker furniture that used to look really nice, but now appear to have gone through a wood chipper. Bane rips them to shit with his claws, even though I ask him nicely to stop.
Speaking of wood, we have a tree branch couch on the back porch that Bane has partly destroyed with his claws. The legs look like someone has taken a pocket knife and begun the process of whittling.
In fact, that could very well be what’s happening.
Bane has recently become quite adept at opening cabinets and drawers, and he’s particularly fond of the drawer where we keep our knives.
While it could help explain the whittling activity on the couch, I’m convinced when the animals rise up and rule the world, knife-wielding cats will lead the way.
I think Bane loves me and he’s very affectionate, but his first loyalty lies with the revolution.
And he vomits … all cats enjoy barfing.
Steve, on the other hand – even though I love him dearly – drives me out of my freakin’ mind.
He’s four pounds of bulbous-eyed fury.
All Chihuahuas are “yappy,” but I know of none who unleash shrill, blood-curdling barks with the volume and frequency of Steve.
If he sees someone walk in front of the house, he lets loose a “dog scream” and charges the window – hair on his back raised and snarling like a hound of hell.
When I look at him sternly and say, “Bad dog!” he hunkers down and mutters under his breath.
One time he told me to kiss his ass and shot me the bird.
Worse, he has a tendency to attack the other animals.
It’s not much of an issue with Bane; they’re BFFs, and it’s fairly obvious they’re play-fighting.
But he menaces Thor by charging at him – causing the poor cat to retreat to a closet (and light up). Thor swatted him once so Steve has learned not to physically assault him anymore, but he still takes advantage of the kitty’s nervous nature.
And poor Charlie … this was a dog who I never heard growl until Steve came along. Now he has no choice because Steve – unprompted – will sometimes leap from the couch and bite Chuck’s butt region.
Charlie has so much hair it doesn’t hurt, but I would assume there’s a certain amount of indignity in having a small dog trying to chew his way to your arse.
I’d growl, too, if it happened to me.
Steve is also a chewer. He’s already destroyed many of his toys, and if you leave him unattended for just a few minutes you’ll find a stuffed duck unceremoniously unstuffed.
Otherwise, he jumps and runs and snorts, and just when you think he’s finally wound down, he jumps and runs and snorts some more.
Fortunately when the weekend comes Mary is home, and the critters are usually on their best behavior then. They tend to glom on to mama, which affords me a respite from cat litter snacking, knives, second hand smoke and small dog insults.
Yet the moment she walks out the door on Monday morning, the circus begins anew.
So yes, wrangling a houseful of animals can be quite a job.
But you know what?
It’s still the best job I ever had.