THE NEWEST THING I’VE LEARNED

I’ve always loved animals. There have been very few times in my life when there hasn’t been a pet (or two) in my life. I think my record was when we bought our first house in Oklahoma. We bought Abbi a bunny (which immediately grew to five times it’s original size and became the Bun From Hell), followed by our realtor bringing us first one kitty, then a second. Then, he talked me into taking on a poodle — which I made him take back after it peed in a guest’s suitcase and destroyed all our blinds. That was followed by finding a home for the Bun from Hell who outgrew his cage in a matter of weeks, ate half our carpet and most of our wiring, was impossible to catch because it weighted more than Abbi, and bit us whenever possible. That left us with two cats, Black Kitty and Giovanni (named after my friend, Peggy’s cat).

That was in ’88. Several years later, I got tired of my secretary telling me owls had absconded with more of her barn kitties and made her bring the latest litter into the office. I found homes for all but two of them, Baby Black Kitty and Baby Kitty. Clearly, I’d had enough pets over the years that we’d run out of names.

Four was too much. I was allergic to Giovanni for some reason, and a guy I dated took Giovanni and Baby Black Kitty back to Dallas with him and found them homes.

That left us with Black Kitty and Baby Kitty.

Then, this cute little white ball of fuzz with a huge feather-duster tail was dumped outside my office in Oklahoma City. Knowing that my secretary  was a bigger wimp than I was, I petted him and left him there. A few minutes later, Lana came upstairs and asked if I’d seen the kitten, and ……. could we please bring him in and try to find his owner.

I went out and got litter and food while she retrieved the kitty. We decided he should be named Broadway Joe or Hollywood, and Hollywood stuck. He pranced around with that feather-duster tail high in the air like he owned the place. Which, of course, he did.  We put an ad in the paper, got several responses — but in Oklahoma at that point in time, people would get stray cats and sell them to the med center for research, so we were very specific when asking if callers could accurately describe him. No one did. Several asked if they could have him anyway. Not gonna happen.

Lana said she could take him home as a barn kitty, but that beautiful white, long-haired cat couldn’t possibly be his regal self covered in cow crap, and I didn’t want her to come in one day telling me an owl had taken him to feed the kids lunch.

After a month of him living in the office (and getting very strange looks from applicants who came in to interview), I took him home for Thanksgiving weekend. He never went back to the office.

Black Kitty died in ’05. Hollywood and Baby Kitty left Oklahoma City with me in June of ’06. Hollywood died in January of ’11, and Baby Kitty died in January ’12.  They were 17 & 23, respectively. For the first time in I can’t remember when, I have no pets.

Except for the mutt, Spot, and two weenie dogs, Nicky and Susan I had growing up and Sugar the Poodle, I’d never been owned by dogs.  I guess you can count Chowder the Poodle who, along with Cathy the Cat I stayed with part of the summer two years ago. Chowder I liked. He was a cool little dude who made friends every time we went for a walk.

And there’s a Golden Retriever I adore. His picture is on my website and was almost on the back cover of my book. Captain owns my heart. He really belongs to my friends, Gin & John Horton, but when I visit, this giant of a dog is at the door waiting for me. If I don’t have a piece of clothing with my scent on it to hand him, he raids my suitcase at night and carries one of my possessions around with him. When he’s resting, he sprawls all four legs out like a frog and rests his head on a toy or pillow. He jumps into my bed and pushes me over to the side. He leans against me and it’s all I can do to keep him from knocking me over, and when a camera is present, he has to be front and center. He is officially a photo hound. Captain could come live with me any time. He constantly makes me laugh.

When I visit Mary & Lina at the farm, they have their own dogs, plus Mary’s mother’s dogs.  Cookie passed a couple of years ago, and these two white furr balls were in the office at Other Options with her every day.

Jenni & Jason’s two dogs have great personalities and aren’t at all annoying. They even get along with the cats.

And when I visit people with dogs, I love having them around.

But I’m at Chris’s now. He, his girlfriend and their son have two dogs — a terrier and a ….. I’m not sure….. little yappy thing.  They have made me realize I’m not in any way a dog person.

Christopher Don owns an antique shop, so he’s gone all the time during the day, and Nikki works at Chesapeake Energy. That’s downtown and they live in Yukon. I’m betting she’s gone from about 7:30am to maybe 6:30 pm at the least. They leave the dogs outside. In 110 degree weather.

Yes, they have a large shaded porch, but it’s not enough. And I know I should leave them outside all day because that’s what they’re used to. But the second I put them out, Sophie (little yappy thing) starts panting and scratching at the door. She is NOT an outside dog. Blackjack puts up with it, but the second the door is opened, his waggy tail is inside the house and he’s knocking me down. At this very second, Sophie is panting and yapping and scratching and panting and yapping and scratching and making me feel as guilty as hell.

While I’m here, they’re inside more than they’re out.

That’s where the problem begins. Sophie wants constant attention. She’s on top of the computer and on top of me and on top of my clothes and digging in my clothes and back on top of the computer and back on top of me and Blackjack is jumping on me and he weighs a ton and then they’re wrestling beside me and spilling back on top of me and I’m trying to write, but Sophie is licking my face and chest and arms and Blackjack is bringing me squeakie toys to throw and if I don’t he’s on top of me along with Sophie and that’s the way my day goes…..and then, nighttime comes and I want to lie down. But Sophie wants to lat on my chest and lick me and Blackjack has his damned squeakie toys or toy dinosaur in my face and if I go to the bathroom they follow me and stay with me and Sophie wants to climb up on my lap while I’m going potty and Blackjack is licking my legs and then they follow me into the kitchen and back to the couch and if I take a shower they’re under my feet and it’s all I can do to not trip over them and then it’s back to the couch where Sophie is licking every inch of my body and Blackjack wants me to throw that damned squeakie toy and …………holy shit. If I wanted something that high maintenance in my life, I’d be married.

So, I guess that means I’m probably not a dog person. If a kitty wanted to lick my face, it would gently climb up on me and caress my cheek before giving me a gentle lick. Big difference. A cat would lie beside me or curl up somewhere on the bed at night, but wouldn’t wake me up at 3am licking the bottom of my foot. And cats sleep about 20 hours a day anyway. I think Sophie & Blackjack only sleep when I’m gone — reserving their strength for when I’m available.

I feel sorry for them, because obviously they’re not the type to be “outside” dogs and are starved for attention. And it’s too damned hot for anything except bugs and lizards to be outside. This week the highs are record-breaking — 108 – 110 – there’s a chance we could go to 112. Of course, it can’t be global warming, because we’ve been told it doesn’t exist. And I know I’ve become a wimp living in California where 79 is too low and 81 degrees is too hot. But no dog should have to be outside when it’s 110.  All day. Every day.

Abbi wants a dog. Not just a dog, a DOG. A Big-Ass-Great-Dane. They don’t require a lot of running-around time, and are great indoors, but I still don’t think she understands how much more work a dog is than a cat — even a cat like her psychotic Nyla who purrs and entices you to pet her just so she can attack and bite when you least expect it.

But I don’t. Want. A. Dog.  When I have income, I’ll send money every month to Save an Angel (check them out on Facebook)– it was set up by Kristie Sullen, and Angel is her dog who is a cancer survivor. It’s her goal in life to save every dog that ever hits a shelter, and I’ll support her and her efforts any way I can. That will be my contribution to Dog-dom. But I don’t see owning one in my future.

I don’t know. Maybe if I could find another Captain. Or if I really do decide to live on a boat I’ll feel safer if I have a sweet Pitty who will be gentle with me and protect me. Maybe I’m not just a hyper-active-type-of-dog person.

Maybe I should just stick to cats. Once I know where I live.

Until tomorrow, be safe out there. And do NOT bring me a puppy.