Friday, October 17, 2008
And they lived happily ever after...
We had a good old-fashioned happy ending at our house last night.
It started when I called Dean as he was driving home from work and heard what sounded like either a newborn baby or a bleating sheep in the background. Turns out it was neither; it was a kitten. A very bedraggled, dingy, clumpy-haired, ear-mite-laden, burrs-in-the-fur kitten. Dean was merging from one highway to another, a four lane affair, when he saw this tiny gray ball of helplessness making its way across traffic. It had made it one lane and cars were swerving and braking and it was trying to get across the other three. It was not going to happen. Dean swerved in front of him and hit the brakes knowing it would either scare him under the oncoming wheels in the other lanes, or back to the shoulder. Thank God, it was back to the shoulder where Dean could chase him down and scoop him up.
Now, mind you, we are currently the proud owners of two elderly male cats whom we have become rather disenchanted with due to their chronic problems: puking, almost invariably on the carpet, though two-thirds of the house is hardwood floors, and peeing in frowned upon locations like the baby's bouncy seat or Frankie's play tent. It got so bad that we no longer allow them access to anything in the house but the basement, and try to remediate all this bad pet-parenting by letting them roam the backyard and petting them out there. Of course, since it has been their fondest dream to escape into the wild and woolly outdoors for years, they now scratch pitifully at the glass doors and meow furiously begging to be let back inside. Poor Gage and Malcolm, how the mighty have fallen (And Mills and Catee, before you call us in righteous indignation, Gage a.k.a. Buddy is the culprit in most of the urination infractions).
Lest we sound cold hearted that we didn't want this new kitten and we force our precious felines to sleep in the basement and roam around the backyard where once they slept like kings on our pillows at the head of the bed, we do have a long history of kind animal behavior. Dean alone rescued a good dozen dogs when we lived in West Virginia. He'd go out for a run while I'd do more sensible things like read novels, and then he'd come back to the house with large dogs held in his arms. I'd be like, Dean, for the love of humanity, do you have some sort of canine pheromone you are emitting?. Then I'd shake my head and let him get on with the thing he really wanted to do with them: give them a bath. All stray animals that come in our home are there for maaaaaybe 5 nanoseconds before Dean has them in warm water and is shampooing them with coconut shampoo. Sometimes he even blowdries. We had black fluffy dogs, small fat dogs covered in ticks, large Great Dane/Dalmation hybrids that thought they were lap dogs, you name it, Dean wrestled it into the bathtub. We had a permanent plywood sign painted with big red letters that read "DOG FOUND." We had to haul it out at least once a week.
Unfortunately, our family's love and sympathy for animals has sometimes steered us astray. My dad, at my mother's behest, risked a prison term kidnapping one of our dogs from my grandma's next door neighbors. He was chained up, malnourished, and unloved, but still, this was almost in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and those yoopers defend their property with firearms. Then there's the time Dean and I stole a cat from our West Virginia neighbors since he was underfed and under appreciated. I just let him in one day and closed all the curtains for a month or two. I figure since they never asked about him, they must not have cared all that much. My sister and her husband once tried to rescue what she insisted was a stray cat on the side of a California highway, but was, in fact, a puma, as Matt found out from the hissing and muscular forelegs when he tried to capture it. I'd say the peak of our misbehavior was when Dean and my sister took in a poor stray cat from Molly's condo complex, made signs and posted them around the neighborhood, transported him from Ann Arbor to Muskegon, and then found out they had taken him from the owner's front yard. No wonder Pearl looked so healthy and unafraid of humans.
I digress. The night Dean found the kitten, he was about ready to call a divorce lawyer since he had worked twelve hours and then came home to find out that I had arranged a spontaneous playdate, and, oh, could he please vacuum the entire first floor and straighten as he goes. But my friend, Cathy, when she walked in the front door the next morning, said the magical words, the words that were like an audible answer to my prayers: "My daughter has been really wanting a cat." SOLD! We packed him up and sent him home with one happy seven-year-old, but not, of course, before Dean had given him a bath. Which was good, because he didn't keep his whites very white.