Friday, May 23, 2008

Cats and Dogs and Chaos

The old myth of cats and dogs living together is slowly being dispelled at our house.

We have had Skye, a six month old kitten now since March 1. And Suzy – a six month old black lab – has been in our house now since April 21st.

So far the dog has not eaten the cat, nor the cat eaten the dog. But they take every opportunity to inspect each other – sniffing buts and swiping paws. Suzie does the sniffing, and Skye does the swiping.

They seem to get along. They even tease each other by eating from each other's bowls. But the repercussions are minimal.

When we got Suzie the puppy, Skye the kitty had her operation to be neutered and front claws removed. The result was a kitten wearing a cone on her neck to keep her from licking her stitches and paws. So the kitten was at a disadvantage. But give credit to Suzie the puppy, for she sensed the kitten to be injured and only inspected to see how injured she really was. And give credit to Skye, although having her vision seriously limited by the cone on her neck, she gave not an inch to the new dog.

Aside from the initial accidents a kitten being housetrained usually has, the kitten has damaged very little in our house, save the underside of a mattress she sliced open so she could crawl in to hide, there has been little real kitty damage.

But Suzie – the six month old black lab – is a different story.

So far, Suzie has chewed off a heel end of Alannah's favorite school shoes – though Alannah loves them more now than before the chewing because she says it gives her something to show her friends about her new puppy.

So far, Suzie has chewed the heel strap off of Darlene's favorite blue pair of Crocs, and a plastic baseball bat we use to play T-ball in the front yard.

So far, Suzie has chewed countless items in the garage where she sleeps at night – at least for now, until this chewing fetish ends.

And the digging. Our deck in the backyard is three levels leading down from the kitchen to the deck that hangs over our half-sunk above ground pool. Under the deck is the sandy-loamed soil Essex County is known for, and apparently that dogs love to dig in. She has dug holes around the outside of the pool, under the deck, and against the house.

And the trampling. Unless you tie a puppy up, it is impossible to keep them out of a bed of annuals. Many of our annuals have been trampled by our black lab as she makes friends with the Boston Terrier who lives in the house behind us.

And while the temperatures are very spring like – they have not yet justified us opening the pool. The cover is still on, with water laying on top and a cluster of leaved in the middle. Like our own little mini-swamp. But to a lab in a perpetual black fur coat, it has been hot. So twice she has "taken a dip" in our pool cover. Luckily neither time was Suzie hurt and we were able to get her right out. But both swims resulted in immediate baths to clean the gunk off her.

And the swearing. Oh my goodness the swearing. Not from Suzie, but at her. Poor dog. Our vocabulary of vulgarities have increased since Suzie's arrival, I will admit.

Now we love Suzie very much. And we have no plans of ever giving her away. We know that this is just a little spell that we have to ride out until she ages a bit – like the fine merlot we know she will become. But it is very frustrating. Especially when your leg is in a brace and your confined to crutches. Especially when your darling wife's back and wrists are completely gnarled from years of emergency room nursing. Especially when you have two little girls that always hug and console the poor puppy after she has been disciplined for her latest wrong doing.

Today, Darlene brought home a strong wire pet line and a spike for tying up poor Suzie in the back yard. At least until we can open the pool. At least until we can re-stain the deck. At least until we can get our many gardens sorted out and protected. For this short times, she is on a twenty yard line.

And Suzie does not like it. She pouts as skillfully as my little seven and five year old daughters.

Poor Suzie.

As for Skye the kitty, she finds a window sill, or sliding glass door to sit and watch the moping puppy Suzie.

If there were ever the sound of a kitten laughing, you would hear it from Skye.

So the total chaos at our house is not the result of the relationship between the cat and the dog. But it is the result moreso of the existence of the dog.

But sometimes chaos can lead to a more orderly patterned life. And that is what we are hoping for.

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