Saturday, June 16, 2007

Miss Hobbs Still Doesn't Like Gregg...

Gregg was convinced Miss Hobbs needed to be checked out by the vet right away and was especially concerned about fleas after our experience with quarantine. I watched her carefully and didn't see any scratching or feel any lumps below the skin indicating irritation from bites. Nonetheless, I took Hobbs in the next available day and they told me it would be expensive.

In addition to a full physical exam, they tested her blood and stool. Hobbs is exceptionally healthy for her age and condition. They did de-worm her at the clinic. However, several days later I had to take a stool sample in because she had diarrhea. Just as I suspected, she had coccida. Since she's had this before, the vet put her on a 21-day regimen. It's a liquid suspension this time rather than a pill, so I just pop a towel over her, pry open her jaws, and squirt a little of the syringe contents into her mouth. She makes a token protest but we both know it makes her feel better.

She has annoyed Gregg mightily by urinating on his gym bag. She has done this at least twice. She also urinated on the kitchen floor several times. Gregg initially thought it was because of Sparky, but he went on puppy training papers right in front of the door, not under the hutch where she puddled. I looked on the mentor site at Purina Cat Chow and it appears her problem is most likely stress.

Miss Hobbs is not the friendliest of cats and has been traumatized since kittenhood after getting tangled in a plastic grocery bag. Since she's been back, the whole cat hierarchy has been upset. Considering she spends most of her time hiding out under our bed, I'm not sure what the big issue is amongst the cats. When she does come out from under the bed to walk around all stiff-legged, it's very evident she's an old cat. I wonder if she hasn't suffered from some sort of dementia. Or maybe she's just mad that I didn't try harder to find her.

A New Home for Sparky

After much discussion, Gregg relented and gave me additional time to find another home for Sparky. We made colored flyers to advertise Sparky's wonderful qualities and endearing expression and posted them on Big Navy, the mini-mart, and at the hospital. If I couldn't find someone to take him by the end of the week, I was looking at crating him and sending him to my mom back in the mainland---an expensive proposition, but one much more palatable than GAIN.

We got two calls just four days later. One of the callers worked with me and came by my workspace to find out more details. I drew him a map to our house and hoped for the best. He had a dog back home who weighed 84 lbs and it was too expensive to ship him here. He said he just accepted the fact it would be two years before he saw his dog again. Sparky would help him while he was missing his dog back home.

When I got home that evening, the doggie gates were down. My heart sank just a little. Part of me was so relieved---no more getting up early, no more spending time with the dog instead of my family, and no more conflicted feelings. Except there were still conflicted feelings: part of me was incredibly sad that I failed at loving dogs.

When I walked in the door, my observations were confirmed. Sparky had a new home.

It's a bittersweet feeling. Dogs force you to live in the moment with them. Cats live parallel lives with you. Something can be learned from living with both.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

I became the [temporary] owner of a puppy on Tuesday, 15 May.

I was at Isla interviewing Brett Silk for a story on dog bite prevention when this woman pulled up in an SUV, pulled out a cardboard box, brought it in and set it down. She went back to the SUV. We all watched her from the glass doors.

"Does this happen often?" I asked.

"All the time," they said.

I guess the woman had second thoughts about what she was doing, because she returned to the lobby and said, "My son brought this dog home that he found along the roadside. I can't bear the thought of him being hit by a car but I can't keep him. We're moving to South Carolina and I'm taking care of a sick relative."

A moment of silence. Then I, ever hopeful, took a deep breath and said bravely, "Well, I have a credit card. Let's see if he's healthy and take it from there."

Three kinds of people exist in the world: cat people, dog people, and indifferent people. I am definitely a cat person. I thought Gregg was a dog person; he always talked about how he grew up with dogs and said he wished we had a dog. That is, until we actually got one.

The kids were initially very excited about having a dog. However, there is a big difference between having a dog, having a puppy, and having cats.

I had to get up earlier than normal to play with him, feed, and toilet him. When I got home at night, I played with him instead of reading my email or books, or spending time with my family. Working 12-hour shifts meant I didn't spend much time with my children before bedtime anyway. My discretionary time, always scarce, became microscopic.

Sparky, as we named him, adored playing fetch and could play it for hours on end.

Cats, on the other hand, love playing with me and, at about the time I'm getting tired, it seems they feel the same way. Without any obligations or hard feelings, we both move on to other activities. My cats lack the ability to inspire guilt in me, unlike Sparky. So there you have it: the way to get me to do something is use your big brown eyes and guilt me.

Hobbs is Back!

I was talking to Mom on Sunday, 3 June, (late Saturday night her time) when I saw a cat walk across the patio. "Mom, I've got to go---Hobbs just walked by!" I dropped the phone and opened the door. The cat promptly took off running. Hobbs has been missing since late February when the back door blew open after we had gone to bed. Of all the cats, Hobbs was the only one who ran away.

I raced into the beddroom to get my shoes and ran back out, Gregg yelling after me, "If you find the cat and bring her back, the dog is going to GAIN tomorrow." I didn't hesitate.

Now the cat was nowhere to be found. I walked through all my neighbors' backyards calling, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty. Come on, Hobbs..." Nothing. I walked until I reached the street. Stopping, I looked around. I did not get the feeling she had crossed the street, and I looked up the street. I thought it unlikely she ran that direction either. I turned back and started walking on the other side of the tree line, still calling out her name.

All of a sudden, I heard her familiar meow. "Hobbs?" I called out again. She meowed in response. We kept the dialogue going until I saw her sitting under a clump of trees, waiting patiently for me to catch up to her.

I carried her home, a feather's weight of fur and bones.