Monday, December 31, 2007

Cats and Dogs

Boo Bug just came up to me and announced, “Mommy, I think I’ve changed my mind about the pet thing.”

Hmm. OK. The children have started the time-honored tradition of hassling me about getting a pet. We are currently, and have been for many years now, pet-free around the Den; we had two cats, back in the day, but one died of renal failure and the other found a new home with a friend shortly afterward, and ever since we’ve enjoyed clear sinuses and the ability to go off for a weekend without worrying about litter box levels.

As all the children put in demands for assorted furry varmints, Boo Bug has been saying she wants to get a puppy. This is laughable, because Boo Bug is terrified of dogs.

I don’t mean that she’s a little nervous around them or like that. I mean, she is so frightened of them that she will go all primal-ape-like-screaming when one is spotted walking with its owner on the sidewalk across the street.

She does the same thing to a slightly lesser degree with cats. And squirrels. And anything else with fur. I have no idea why. It can be a Chihuahua, she will act like it is a rabid, ravenous wolf about to spring upon her. Even cute little fuzzy puppies set her off. And Lord forbid it is actually a big dog. It doesn’t matter if the dog is in the backyard and she’s in the house, she will be a ball of anxiety until we leave. She came to me sobbing and sniffling because there was a cat in a house we visited and {OH THE HORROR!} it looked at her.

Ya. Pretty sure it was about to ::SPRING!!::. That was a close shave, there. Whew.

Well-intentioned people have tried to “snap her out of it” by introducing her to their friendly pups. Yeah. Ha ha. Hey, did you know that if a child-friendly dog is confronted by a child who is screaming in a pitch that can shatter glass, kicking and flailing her arms wildly, the dog will start to bark? I don’t care what dog it is, it will start barking. It’s probably just trying to be heard, and likely saying, “Dude, what’s the matter with the kid?” but the barking then makes her scream and cry harder and it all goes downhill from there.

A dog that has (according to the owner) “never even growled” at anyone once took a snap at her when she went into her meltdown. I don’t blame the dog, either. I blame my friends for thinking it would be a good idea to just get the kid away from her mom (who is obviously somehow making her this way) and introduce her to this sweet little Terrier.

Could have killed them. Seriously. Thanks for helping with the phobia, there. That’s great.

ANYWAY. Yeah, so you can imagine how seriously I’ve taken her ‘I want a puppy’ thing.

So she just came up to me and said, quite seriously, that she had changed her mind about the pet thing. And then she came up with this gem, which I give to you straight from the Bug herself:

“I think we should get a cat because a cat is like an animal that, you know, a cat is…well, if you went to DISNEYLAND with people who are allergic to them, to cats I mean, well! If you did that, the cat could stay here and relax on your chair and purr, aaaaaaand…sit there…on your chair…like that. {pause} But you’d need a basket for it. {pause} For the yarn I mean. {pause} Because you know how cats are, with yarn. But I think a cat would be a very good pet. For Disneyland and also because they like yarn and they like fires. So it would be a better pet than a puppy. I think.”

{blink, blink}

Uhhhhhhhh, okay.

Sure. We’ll think about a cat.

Just as soon as I have time to deal with the litter box maintenance. Which should happen right after I finish the laundry. And hey! Look what I found: A handy guide for catching up on dirty laundry!


Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! We have the opposite problem here - the kids have never seen a critter they didn't like. We've had dogs, cats, fish, birds, lizards, turtles, frogs, hamsters, gerbils - I draw the line at snakes, though. Right now we have two dogs, two cats, two parakeets and a beta (sounds like the Ark, eh?). And I have to confess, I'm almost as bad as the kids, although I infinitely prefer things with fur over reptiles or amphibians. It's a shame Boo Bug is so frightened of animals. What does she do at the zoo? Or is that a no-Boo-Bug zone? Poor kid, I hope she's able to get past this eventually. It would be sad for her to miss all the fun of a pet. (Yeah, yeah, I know about the work too...but with our new pound-puppy snuggling at my feet, the work involved just seems so worth it!)

Science PhD Mom said...

What about a bird? Small furry rodents? Just let your kiddos get bigger and figure out there are more pet options and I'm betting you will cave eventually. It starts with Sea Monkeys. You, too, shall succumb! Muahahahaha!

She of the feathered pet

Anonymous said...

My girls were exactly the same, terrified of everything. We eventually decided to get a cat, partly because we hoped it would help 'cure' them of the hysteria and partly to help cure me of my hysteria over a mouse-sighting or two in the house.

Their father and I went, without the children, to the local animal shelter and were allowed into the cat area (avoid kittens!) to meet the available adoptees - a small grey cat immediately climbed up my leg, reached my shoulder and buried her head in my neck, purring loudly, and clung on until I promised to take her home. A small but loud ginger cat parked himself in front of us, yowling constantly until we gave him our full attention and also got himself a new family. We chose the friendliest cats who were not shy or flighty in any way we could see (we spent nearly an hour in there with them).

We then delayed taking them home for a week in which we discussed getting a pet with the children, how to take care of them and talked a lot about how the cats would feel when they came to their new home...

None of it helped. My girls were hysterical with fear, they shrieked when the cats came in the room, they cried at the thought of being cornered by one and when the two cats tried to play with the girls (ping pong balls are the best cat toy ever!) I thought I'd have to take them back to the animal shelter.

We gave it a week. By the seventh day the girls weren't scared any more. They weren't comfortable but the shrieking had stopped and I could leave the animals and children together in a room without tears from the girls.

A month later they were the best of friends. We definitely chose well with the cats, they were not kittens any more (kittens, although cute, tend to bite and scratch as they play which would have only fuelled the fire) but were young enough to want to play with anything that moved.

Six months on the cats suffer all sorts of indignities. They are dressed up in dolls clothes, wheeled around in toy prams and used as pillows for communal naps on the couch. They are extremely laid back about being hauled about by an enthusiastic four year old and have even been trained not to even LOOK at my knitting.

Now if I could just get the four year old to stop kissing the chicken...

Rabbitch said...

A better way to catch up on dirty laundry:

Find a large area and put all of your dirty laundry in it.

Sprinkle laundry with gasoline.

Set alight.

Pour glass of wine, and go join a nudist colony.

MadMad said...

As always, a great read. (And that laundry thing. How does one get a job writing stuff like that? Seriously. How to do effin' laundry. You just do it.) Anyway. And I feel the same way about replacing our dead cat. I just don't know if I'm up for another round of litter boxing.

ellipsisknits said...

ha, your stories are reminding me of a cousin who stayed with us who was afraid of the (very laid back) cat. Being put to bed one day, she protested and pointed at the cabinet, and dead serious proclaimed 'Kitty in-ere - Kitty eat me'

She's since gotten over it and they have a cat of their own now, but we still laugh at her (charitable people that were are)

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!

Well, at least Boo Bug doesn't think the tarantula at the pet store is "So cute!".