Monday, September 2, 2013

This is why I never bought a dog                                                  September 1, 2013

When my kids were little, they wanted a dog. Actually, so did I. But I had cats.

Nothing wrong with cats. I love cats. I also love dogs.

Before my sons were born, before I was married, I had two cats. They were soft and cuddly and sometimes noisy and they were easy to care for. I could go away on long trips, maybe for a week or so, and come back and the cats would be OK. Of course, they would be mad at me for leaving them and fuss at me for about 20 minutes when I returned, but they forgot about it when I sat down on the couch and offered them a lap to curl- up on. Did you ever notice that the alpha cat always gets the lap first? The other cat circles around and ends- up on your feet or next to you or above your head on the couch cushion.

Anyway, there is nothing wrong with dogs. My family had dogs for as long as I can remember... except that time we got some fish. They were pretty to look at but boring. They don't chase tennis balls, or anything. Then there was the time a friend of my mother's sent me a baby alligator from Florida. We had a dog then and he tried to bite it, but the alligator wanted to bite back. We kept that alligator until it was not such a baby. When it got bigger than my father's hand, he put it in the bathtub thinking we could give it some water to lie in and it could not get out because the sides were too slippery.

One day when I came home from school, I tried to feed the alligator in the bathtub. It opened it's mouth... which by this time was pretty big and filled with some mean- looking teeth. It held it's mouth open a followed my hand holding the piece of hamburger, with it's evil- looking eyes.

After several minutes of wondering if I should drop the hamburger and growing more and more concerned that the slippery bathtub was not going to hold the alligator. I dropped the meat onto his nose. You have never seen something move that fast in your life! His head snapped up, tossing the meat into his mouth and it clamped shut. I jumped back!

Later I told my father and he grabbed the alligator right behind it's eyes while I distracted it, put it in a box and took it to the zoo. I never found out what happened to that alligator, but the we were able to take a bath, again.

But, back to the dog thing. The suburban house I bought was going to be my personal remodeling project. It was not a fixer-upper, you know the kind that has lots of problems. It was in pretty good shape, except for the beer can in the master bathroom toilet. But that's another story.

Since my plan was to change it to my "dream" house, I didn't want to deal with a messy, slobbery, mud- filled- paws, shedding- on-the couch dog. It would just get in the way! Then, when my plans to remodel the house didn't work out, I decided to move. I decided to build my "dream" house, not re- arrange somebody else's dream.

Well then, we couldn't get a dog because how was I going to sell the ranch house with dog smells and slobber and hair all over the place?

These are the reasons I kept giving my sons when they would ask about a dog. They loved the cats anyway and since they knew no other pets, they were content. I hoped.

When the next house was finished and I stood in my brand- new, hard wood floor front hallway I had a feeling I had never had before. This was MY house! From the ground up, I helped design this house. It was brand, spanking new! I knew this house from the inside- out! Every corner, every step, every light fixture, every wall was perfect! The boys and I would come to the construction site almost every day and watch the builders put my house together. They even helped the builders put up the outside kitchen wall and hammered the nails into the studs. This was OUR house from top to bottom!

The cats were not thrilled about moving into a new house, but cats adapt as long as you feed them. If they get too unhappy with you, they just leave. Both of the cats stayed, so I guess they liked the new house, too. It was a two-story and they could chase each other up and down the stairs. They could roam around the unfinished basement (my dream is still not complete) and make it their own.

But, how could I bring a dog into this perfect building? It's claws would scratch the beautiful hard wood floor. If it was not house- broken I could only imagine what it would do and where it would do it!

The years went by and one of the cats died. He curled- up way back inside my perfect walk- in closet and it took me almost a day to find him. He was purring when he saw me, but not really able to walk. I gently picked him up and put him on my lap. He was the alpha cat and expected to be there, anyway. The other cat came over to sniff him. Animals can tell when another one is sick and I believe they can tell when another animal is dying. He looked up at me as if to say, "put me down, now there is nothing more you can do." He crawled off my lap and under a chair. His eyes looked glazed, but he kept purring.

The boys understood what was happening since a kitten we had in the ranch house died before he could grow up to be a cat. They began to cry. They said "Mommy, let's take him to the vet... he can help him." Everyone, except their father, was crying at this point and I said "Yes, we will take him to the vet". I wrapped him in a towel and the boys kissed him and rubbed him behind the ears. That was his favorite thing.

When we came back without the cat, the boys knew he was gone. We all hugged and cried. The other cat sniffed the last spot where his friend had laid, then curled up on the couch and didn't move much for the rest of the day. He didn't even eat his dinner when I put it next to the empty second food dish.

Time went on, the other cat began eating again, the boys went to school everyday and the house was quieter. But there was a small, yellow- striped hole in my heart where my kitty had lived. And, truthfully, I did not want to create another one.

But, the boys said "we need another cat to keep this one company." So, we got a new kitten. Black and white with white whiskers against his black eyes and mouth. He looked like he was wearing a mask, so the boys name him "Batman".

The boys are in college now, one in another state and one still at home. They don't ask about getting a dog, anymore. But, I keep bringing it up. I would be good for my son to have the responsibility of a dog. Take it for walks, clean-up after it, play with it,love it.

I know how the cats would react to a dog! It would rock their world! And, I know there would be plently of "messes" to clean- up between three animals. The oldest cat may even decide he doesn't want to live with two other species in the house, and strike- out on his own in the backyard. Batman won't go anywhere. He will tolerate anything as long as his food dish is full.

The house is not "new" anymore. I learned that once you move into a brand, new building it just becomes... another building that you fill with too much stuff and have to clean and fix the toilets when they don't flush. I'm still proud of my house. It's inside condition says a lot about it's owner.. "not a great housekeeper". The hardwood floor still shines and the longer we live here, the more I feel that it is "home". But there is something missing. And when both my sons are off on their own and I am left alone, night after night with only the cats, I think there will be another hole in my heart that only a slobbery, so- glad- to- see- you, have- to- take- for- walks, tail- wagging, furry, funny- face- with- a- wet- nose, can fill.

Maybe, I'll get a dog.