When Tippy was getting old, my parents took my brother and got a beagle/coonhound mix for him, which he named Tally. Tally was his dog. She also got very sick as a puppy and we almost lost her. The sickness made her mean. Not vicious, but it took away her tolerance for annoying things.
Then, in my freshman year of High School, I was cutting through a back yard with a couple of my friends, when the woman who owned the house opened the door and out ran three fat little puppies. Two of them looked very beagle like. The third had silky red hair, the color of mine. This third one ran over to me, and started jumping around me as if she had met her savior. I took the puppy home. My parents only made a mild protest, and soon I had a dog for myself. At my brother's suggestion, I named her Shilo. And she was 32 flavors of awesome. She was about as smart as a stick, but she was sweet and loveable. I had two friends, Amy and Debbie, who were terrified of dogs. Debbie had been viciously attacked by a dog as a toddler and Amy saw the whole thing. And this was total and utter fear. Yet, Shilo, with her happy-go-lucky ways, and perpetual attitude of greeting everyone as if they were the most important person in the whole wide world, won those two girls over. It got to the point that whenever either of them came over to my house, they had a treat for Shilo. They gave Shilo birthday and Christmas presents too.
When I moved out of the house, Shilo stayed behind. Not because I wasn't willing to take her, but because my mother had gotten so close to Shilo when I went to college, that for me to even suggest I take custody of my own dog, got me death dagger stares and pleas of, "But we have this lovely yard! She's so happy here!"
So, I ended up getting cats. And that's what's lead me to who I am today, which is a crazy old cat lady in the making.
When I was the owner of Shilo, one Christmas I got the James Herriot books. All Creatures Great and Small, and All Things Wise and Wonderful. Those were the only two out then, but at every birthday and Christmas, if another one had come out, I got it. I loved those books. They were amusing, and heartwarming and just enjoyable reads. My mother and father also read the books and they were family favorites.
So, when I was able to download them and listen to them recently, I did so. And in many ways, its been like running into an old friend.
With one exception.
When I read the books as the friend of Shilo, the dog stories made me smile. And if the dog was a sweet, friendly dog, I would think to myself that Shilo was just as wonderful. I was sure that James Herriot, had he been our vet, would have adored Shilo. I had good reason for thinking this, because Shilo charmed our vets office so much, that the three doctors who ran the place used to argue about who got to see her. The owner settled the matter by pulling rank, so she was Shilo's main doctor. But every time we brought Shilo in, they all came out to see her, pet her, and give her treats. When we had Shilo put down, because of stomach cancer, all three vets were there when they gave her the shot. All three cried with my mother and I. Even the doctor who had recently been added, a male doctor, got misty eyed and said that he'd heard so much about Shilo that he felt he knew her too.
So, the books never made me feel envious. Sure, these folks had wonderful dogs, but they weren't any more wonderful than Shilo and never would be.
But now, as I'm listening to these books again, I find myself in the same situation I was with when I listened to the Dewey books. No, these cats aren't as perfect as Dewey was, but they are sweet, loving, wonderful cats.
I was listening to these charming cat stories while at work today and at first, they gave me a warm glow as I thought about my cats. I thought about how cute Jesse is, how funny Goten can be, how full of personality Chrissy is. And I couldn't wait to get home and see my three babies and give them some serious love.
I get home... I open the door. Goten is standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, and when he sees my face, he meows charmingly. I head into the house, hoping to grab him for a bit of a cuddle. But, suddenly, my foot lands on something small, hard, and round, and I go skidding around, barely managing to grab the stove, so I don't fall completely ass over teakettle. Yes, Goten had tried to kill me, yet again.
But, I'm still in a glow, and maybe it just is a mistake. Sure, he doesn't do it at all when Todd is out and I'm home, but maybe that's just a mere coincidence. Surely, Goten realizes that his Mommy loves him and cares for him and feeds him, surely he must love me.
I got to scoop him up. He twists around and bites my wrist, scrambling and scratching up my arm. "OW!" I shout and try to get him of of me. However, his claws have sunken hard into my shirt and he's hanging on for dear life. I twist around, trying to get him to drop off of me, but he's enjoying the ride and hanging on for dear life. Even worse, he's done that cat-finds-mass thing.
For those of you who aren't familiar with cats, the cat mass thing is a gift all cats have. When a cat is being held against their will, or hanging on to someone against their will, cats can call on the universe to increase their mass. The Universe, remembering that cats were once worshiped as Gods, always respond, making the cat double, triple or even quardruple what they weigh. Goten, is probably the reincarnation of the head big daddy cat god of Egypt, because the universe rewards him by making him grow ten times heavier than normal, while retaining the same size. And, even worse, the Universe, wanting to stay on Goten's good side, also temporarily removes all of his bones, so trying to hold on to him is like trying to hold on to 130lbs of jello. That is hanging onto me, by my shirt and my flesh with his claws.
So, as I'm dancing around, trying to remove this sack of heavy cat from my body without losing too much blood, Jesse comes bouncing into the kitchen, meowing like crazy and looking as if he's just been injected with a dose of pure happy. Surely, Jesse is eager to see me! Jesse and I have a special relationship, he knows I rescued him from the street! Jesse will give me that warm, friendly glow I get from the books. I manage to get Goten onto the stove, where he lets go, and flicks his paws, no doubt, trying to get the blood from under his claws.
I turn my attention to Jesse who is still meowing and has also started rubbing against me, looking so charming and irresistible. I scoop him up into my arms.
I may have mentioned that Jesse is a big cat. He's a very big cat. Not fat, just BIG. This isn't a bad thing, I like big cats. However, Jesse is convinced that he's not really big, he's actually a tiny little kitten. And as a tiny little kitten, he wants to snuggle into my neck. So, I've got a 12 pound cat, with a head the size of one of those very large California navel oranges frantically trying to burrow into my neck, sinking his back claws into my chest, as he pushes and pushes, his head pushing into my neck, cutting off the air supply to my windpipe.
Just as my vision has started fading and I feel that at any moment, I will pass out, Jesse figures out that nope, he cannot fit into my neck, he climbs up on my shoulder, sinking his claws into me, to make sure he keeps his balance. I'm inhaling great gulps of air, as Jesse spots Goten on the stove. Wiggling his butt and rapidly flicking his tail, so it slaps my face like a wet, rolled up towel, he springs off of me and onto the stove.
I do not have a commercial, 6 or 8 burner stove. I have a normal, four burner standard stove. This means that there is barely room for Goten on it, never mind Goten and Jesse. So, Jesse lands on Goten.
Goten, understandably feels a bit threatened by that, and hisses, then grabs onto Jesse. For a moment, it looks like a dust cloud with paws rolling about on my stove. I gasp, not knowing what to do, but telling myself I will not try to physically separate them. They've gotten enough blood from me today, thank you very much.
Eventually, the stove proves itself to be too small for a fighting ring, and the two cats go sliding onto the floor. They barely miss a beat, but continue to catfight each other, making a lot of loud, angry, shrill, noises. Now I'm getting annoyed, so I grab a magazine, roll it up, and smack it against the stove as hard as I can, making a terrific noise and shaking it enough so the six iron burner tops bounce into the air and land with a crash.
The noise startles my boys, so the stop. Then, I neatly put myself in the middle of the two of them. This leads to a lot of frantic meowing, no doubt bitching about the other.
"Mooooom! He's always picking on me!"
"Mooooom! He bit me, hard, 600 times!"
"He bit me first!"
"Did too. Moooom, can we drown him? In the sink?"
"Did not! Moooom, he lies! Let's just toss him outside where he belongs!"
"STOP IT BOTH OF YOU!" I scream.
They both pull back, looking at me in total shock. They look at each other, their extreme hatred of each other forgotten for a few seconds.
"Why is she using the cranky voice?"
"I dunno. God, she's in such a bitchy mood today."
They look at me and meow more. "Mom, we've come to the conclusion that you are way too cranky. You probably need to get laid!"
"No," I growl, "I need to become pet free."
I storm out of the kitchen, into the bathroom, so I can wash my hands. Out of sight, the cats remember that they hate each other. "You suck!"
"No, you suck."
"No, you suck. You suck so bad that your birth mama called you Hoover."
"Oh yeah? Well, if you look up suck in the dictionary, you'll find your picture."
"Well, you chase your own tail!"
"You lick your butt."
"You lick my butt too."
"I hate you."
"I hate you too."
I decide to let them kill each other. I now have a headache and I am exhausted. So, I go into my bedroom, to lay down and take a nap. Chrissy, my eight pound soaking wet cat has managed to stretch herself out so she's taking up almost the whole bed. If I could fold myself into a triangular shape, I might be able to lay down, but I am not a flag.
Chrissy looks up at me, still stretched out. "Hi Mommy, like my bed? It is most comfortable."
"Yeah, I see that. C'mon, move!"
She closes her eyes, seeming to think about this for a moment, then opens her eyes. "Nope."
"Chrissy, c'mon, MOVE. I have a headache! I want to lay down!"
Again, eyes shut, then open. "Nope."
"Chrissy, c'mon, just move over to this side and shift so you're lying lengthwise, not corner to corner. You'll still have the same amount of room pretty much, but I can then lay down too."
"Chrissy, I want to LAY DOWN!"
"I'll bet you do. You're awful cranky. Go lay down on the couch."
And, because I don't want to argue, that's exactly what I do.
So, Doctor James Herriot, I blame you for how sucky my late afternoon/evening was. You and your lovely cats, each one a joy to work on, made me have hope that my cats would show me some much needed affection. Instead, they were their usual, obnoxious, selves.
But, I shall have my revenge. Oh yes, I shall, because next week, Chrissy and Goten both need to go into the vet for their yearly exams and shots. And sure, the vet I go to is not you, but he is a vet. And my cats will act up. So if my vet every decides to write a book about his experiences, he will at least have two hellion kitties to write about, which will undoubtedly make other cat owners feel better.
It's not much, but it is enough.