Old Dogs, New Tricks

Animal shelters far and wide have been emptied as people rush to foster pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dogs old and young have found, at worst, a temporary – and presumably, loving sanctuary… and at best, a foster-fail situation (that’s when the foster family adopts the animal themselves because they loved it so much they didn’t want to see it go).  Although most of the stories I’ve seen have been centered around dogs, one can only hope that cats are feeling the same outpouring of compassion. This got me thinking about pet adoption in general. Although, to be fair, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking about pet adoption (which is why I’ve always had so many animals!).

­Not everyone of course, but in general, when people are looking to adopt, they always seem to go for the animals that are the cutest, and the youngest. The little doe-eyed beagle tripping over his ears while running after his sibling. Or that rambunctious little long-haired kitten batting whimsically at that larger-than-it-is ball of yarn while two other little cuties follow it back and forth in their cage.

But what about the older or the not so cute dogs or cats? Maybe a one-eyed pug, or a cat with half a tail. Sure, they might need a little extra care, but what else were you going to do with your life? Something boring, I’m sure, and nothing as emotionally satisfying as saving your new best friend.

People tend to think that older animals come with “baggage,” but seriously, who doesn’t? Not to mention, have these folks ever even tried to housetrain a puppy? Or get thru puppyhood with all their shoes and other household items intact? I know I’ve lost a pillow set or two, and one time, even a chair, in my years of raising fur babies.

Don’t even get me started about kittens that tear up the curtains learning to climb. Or finding all the aglets on my shoes nibbled on. (Fun fact: it wasn’t too long ago that I learned an aglet is the little plastic piece on the end of your shoelace. Knowledge is power, stay thirsty my friends.) Or searching for that lost kitten who found its way behind the cabinets or into the ceiling (true story).

My daughter found a kitten in the stairwell of our condo building a few months ago. Of course, being her mother’s daughter, she brought it into our home. We took the wayward waif (a girl, by the way) to the vet, had her checked for a microchip (nope), and then started canvassing our building and the surrounding buildings looking for an owner. I may have said this before, but I need another pet like I need a hole in my head, no matter how cute they may be, so trust me when I say, our search was thorough. The owner was duly found the next day – they were ecstatic to have her back in the fold (not so ecstatic about my microchip lecture, I’m sure), and all was right with the world once more. However, this foray into unexpected kitten-sitting reminded me that babies are hard. They’re nerve-wracking and exhausting and you worry about what they’re getting into. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a kitten in the house, and I had forgotten just how much trouble they get into. They’re either on or they’re off, there’s no in-between. And when they’re on, you have to be on your toes. All. The. Time.

Sometimes there are good reasons to go for a younger animal and I’m not judging anyone who prefers to start from scratch when adding a new member to their family.  I’m just saying, consider your other choices.  Sure, older animals might come with some emotional baggage, as I said, but let’s face it, so do we. The truth is, they just want love and security and a place to call their forever home, but then again, so do we.

Bonus: in many cases, the older generation already knows how to play fetch or has their running game on point for that morning jog you like to take, or they’re already the perfect couch potato for that Netflix lifestyle you’ve got going on.

Not to mention, you’ll be counteracting what their previous owners did by dumping them, so there’s a bit of karmic brownie points there to be had. And who doesn’t need extra brownie points in life? Plus, older animals, like older people, still have a lot of life in them, so don’t overlook them … you might be missing out on the friendship of a lifetime.

Timely Advice

Pets are for life, not just for Christmas. All too often these “Christmas presents” end up on Craigslist after the holidays… or worse. Animals are not disposable; they are living, sentient beings who deserve better.

Bringing a pet into a home and a family is a decision that should be made with great care. If you’re not prepared for a lifetime commitment – with all that entails – get a toy instead.

Want to help the animals in your community? There are some great ideas HERE.

Breaking News… of a Sort

Labor Day, generally speaking, isn’t usually equated with a day of peace… it’s just not the theme for the holiday. But, still, miracles happen, and one such miracle happened in Maryland today. In fact, it’s a day that will go down in history.

Let it be known, that on Labor Day 2019, after a long-standing feud of 10 odd years, hostilities came to a halt, as peace talks, successful at last, brought about a temporary truce between two bitter foes. Weary from battle, these faithful warriors laid down their arms… umm, teeth… and sheathed their claws to meet, on common ground, for a well-deserved nap.

Will this newfound (dare we even say it!?) friendship last once these lifelong enemies have awoken? Or is this truce truly temporary? No-one in either camp is willing to end their slumber prematurely, so the future is uncertain.

For now, let’s simply revel in the unexpected tranquility and contentment reigning over the realm.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.

Cats Rule, People Drool

Thousands of years ago, humans worshiped cats as Gods. They were carved into the sides of buildings, crafted in giant sculptures, and were even mummified. Much like the ancient Egyptians, modern humans forever enshrine their cats on social media videos for thousands of people to watch and enjoy around the world. Although, studies have shown that if domestic house cats were even a little bigger, they would kill you if they had the chance. Since cats are choosing not to murder us on a daily basis, I think we need to show them how much we really care. You know, as servants who are afraid of being killed in our sleep should do.

Cardboard Offerings

This one is a given. I mean, cats of all sizes – even wild cats, love a good box. Online shopping has made it easy for us to order cardboard boxes straight to our houses. I order stuff I don’t need just to have the box. After all, your cats don’t care what you’re ordering. They just want the box. It could even be a cat tree or scratching post… do they care? Nope. It’s the box they’re after. The minute you take the product out of the box, it is no longer yours. Kiss that box goodbye. A good cat servant has a cardboard box in every room so the cat always has a place to lie in wait for their next target (you… it’s you, you’re the target).

A View to a Kill

Cats love to be up high. Refrigerators, cabinets, bookshelves, dressers. They like to loiter in high places because they are natural predators. As hunters, they want to get the jump on anyone and everything, so they call dibs on all the high places in every room of the house. The problem with new cat owners servants is they think they should be allowed to put knick-knacks and other items in the very places that cats have called dibs.  I mean, really. What are they thinking? That they own the place or something?  Sheesh. Cats will just knock down whatever is in their way and use the place for a perching location. And look at their servant with disdain while doing so. The very idea of cluttering up my space with a 100-year-old depression glass basket. Well. I showed them the error of their ways. After they clean that up, they better get me some treats.  The thing is, you can either be proactive and install shelves up high, just for the cats to reenact their favorite scenes from The Lion King, or you can kiss your valuables goodbye.  You know what? Never mind. While I do suggest creating a play area accessible only to your cat, it won’t matter… they’ll still knock your stuff down. But at least they’ll have a place from which to look down and mock you as you get out the broom and dustpan. Again.

Preserved for Posterity

What better way to show your cat how important they are than recording everything they do? It’s also important to get plenty of evidence in case you do something wrong, so your cat is justified in their decision to pounce you one day and end your whole existence.

A Worthy Throne

Whether they like to admit it or not, cats do like to be near their person. If for no other reason, than to keep tabs on them (after all, you may decide to dig into the cat treats). Placing a shoebox near your workspace for your cat to sit in is a thoughtful gesture… and one that I’m sure the cat will appreciate as they lounge atop their true throne – aka your $5,000 printer – judging you.

Gifts to the Gods

Cats appreciate a servant that does their research… and homework. By sitting in front of our computer screens for hours on end, trying to figure out the 500 steps involved in creating the perfect DIY scratchers with catnip cubbyholes we plan to put in every room, we’re really just showing how much we care for our feline masters. We’re proving to them that we’re willing to go that extra mile. Of course, they’ll steadfastly eschew said DIY scratchers, regardless of how much sweat and blood (literally) we put into them, preferring instead to assert their reign by adding their loving touch to our furniture.

the queen at rest

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a cat person. I love cats, always have. But I understand they’re on a higher plane than the rest of us. Unlike dogs, cats do what they want. If they come when we call or go along with performing our silly little tricks, it’s only because they’re placating us … to give us a sense of value and significance.  In so doing, they assert control over us, not the other way around.

Have you ever taught a cat a trick and then tried to show off that trick in front of people only to be met with a look of bewilderment from your feline performer? You want me to do what?  You must be joking. What do you do? Of course. Give more treats in a desperate attempt to prove to your audience that the cat can, in fact, do said trick. This cycle continues, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, until the little fur-covered jerk cat becomes bored with their own game and refuses to do the trick even when you’re alone.

Yet you will continue plying the fickle feline with treats and praise and attention. And do you know why that is?  Because you’re the servant anxious to please your master. They’ve trained you well.  I mean, hey, I get it. I’m not judging. I have two of my own, and trust me, I spend my days making sure they are happy enough to not kill me in my sleep.

Some cats are cute, making us go awwww… some cats are beautiful and make us go… oooooo. Just never forget, they’re large and in charge and we are but humble domestics in their household.