Tag Archives: dogs

Dogs, Cats and Other Demons

31 Jan

The portal to hell is right outside my front door. Just ask my dog, Pogo. Every time the doorbell rings, he begins barking, “Satan is here! Satan is here! Don’t answer the door! Satan is here.” He will bark at Satan while I answer the door, while I allow the demon to enter, while I take the demon’s coat, while I usher the demon into our home. He will even bark should I hug the demon. He will bark, in fact, until the demon nears him, then he will lie down on the ground, roll onto his back, tongue lolling, waiting to be petted.

Satan may be able to get into our home with just a quick tummy rub, but he won’t want to stay. Immediately after being tummied, Pogo will bring him a saliva-covered tennis ball and drop it at his feet. He does this to everyone who enters our home. If you are seated, Pogo will drop his saliva ball in your lap. If you are standing, Pogo will drop the saliva ball at your feet. If you are sitting or standing near the kitchen table, Pogo will drop the saliva ball on the table. Then, he will stare at you with Charles Manson eyes, eagerly and maniacally waiting. You will pick up the ball using as little finger surface area as possible and toss it to the beast.

This is your biggest mistake. You are trying to be nice. He’s a cute doggie. He’s so eager. What harm can it do to play a little fetch? And this is where he has you. There is no “little fetch” with Pogo. There is fetch until you bleed, but there is no little fetch. Once you toss the ball, you are his. Ignoring him doesn’t work. He will drop the saliva ball in your lap and if you don’t toss it, he will take it from you then drop it back in your lap. You will toss it just to get the gloppy thing away from you.

We have devised ways of having fun at Pogo’s expense. We invented a sort of indoor dog hockey that involves tossing the saliva ball into the kitchen. It is impossible for Pogo to get a good grip on the vinyl floor. He skitters and slides after the ball, legs pumping like a cartoon character. Finally, he catches up to the ball then slides sideways into the stove. I feel a little guilty laughing at him, but then I remember he’s ruined our family room carpet and feel a lot better about myself.

My son gets the worst of the saliva ball games. Pogo’s domain is the kitchen and family room, which run the entire back of the house. My son’s drum kit also happens to be in the family room. The first time he played the drums in the family room, Pogo dropped the saliva ball on a drum. My son threw it to get it out of the way and set about drumming. Pogo fetched it and brought the ball back. My son tried to ignore the ball. Pogo barked. My son ignored. Pogo barked louder. My son tossed the ball. There was a Sunday at our house when my son was playing the drums, my daughter was playing the piano and Pogo was barking to the beat.

Pogo is not our only pet and, while he may believe he keeps the devil out of our home, he is wrong. The devil is very much among us and his name is “Oliver.”

Oliver is our cat. We routinely say that he is the worst cat in the world. People laugh, thinking that we are exaggerating our cat’s misdeeds. All cats are a little rotten, aren’t they, they will say. We just nod our heads. We know. Oliver is Beelzebub’s acolyte.

When our children were little, we had safety devices installed in cabinets, on select doors, even on the stove and the toilet. Then, our children grew up and could be trusted not to flush wash cloths or eat an entire bottle of vitamins. We have had to reinstall cabinet locks, though, on cabinets that no three-year-old could ever reach. Our cat, you see, likes to open cabinets and empty them of their contents. One cabinet is a particular favorite, the one we use to store glasses. Oliver loves to sneak his evil kitty paw into the cabinet and swipe a few glasses onto the floor. We installed the cabinet lock and breathed easy for a while.

Oliver’s chaos cravings were not so easily thwarted. He discovered the pantry where many things are stored including his and Pogo’s foods as well as bottles of various substances. With a few quick swipes, the contents of the first two shelves rattle onto the floor with a cat-satisfying clatter. Now, we place the kitchen trashcan in front of the cabinet. If we forget, Oliver reminds us.

We used to leave coffee cups on the counter, back when we had twelve matching coffee cups. We no longer have twelve matching coffee cups. Oliver’s favorite pastime is pushing breakable items, like coffee cups, over the edge of the counter. I might understand this behavior if he waited around for the crash and splash. But he doesn’t. Surveying the wreckage takes too much of his valuable time. There are other items waiting to be broken, like soup bowls and antique teapots.

I believe Oliver’s issues stem from his traumatic childhood. Oliver was one of a litter of kittens that was being fostered by my best friend. My friend and I sing together. We were rehearsing at her house, in the basement. Our children, three of them supposedly at a responsible age, were upstairs amusing themselves responsibly, we thought. Also upstairs were the kittens. Upon finishing rehearsal, we adults went upstairs where we found the children in the kitchen with the kittens . . . in their pants. Each child had partially unzipped his or her pants and stuffed a kitten in them. The kittens’ adorable little faces peaked out at us as I uttered words I hope never to repeat: “Get the kittens out of your pants NOW!” Oliver was one of those kittens.

We do have a pet that is much more to my liking. It is a fish. It lives in a tank that has achieved perfect fish tank balance. There is a fish, a plant and a bunch of snails. I add water now and then. I feed the fish now and then. While Oliver and Pogo are technically my son’s pets, the fish is my daughter’s. She complains that she should have a pet with fur because it’s impossible to hug a fish. “No,” I think, “You can’t really hug a fish.” But a fish has got it all over a furry pet. You can flush a fish.

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