Monday, November 24, 2008

Peril of the Circus Animals

PhotobucketIt was an eventful weekend around our house in Borderland. The snowy weather finally managed to look scenic without being bitterly cold and uncomfortable at the same time; we got a lot of work done around the place, in anticipation of T-Day; and we nearly managed to kill both of our pets.

T-Day first...

Thanksgiving is occurring at our house, this year, and we have anywhere from three to fourteen people coming to stay with us. This being the case, we've been actively forcing ourselves off our our collective ass in order to finish a lot of the post-moving-in projects we've been meaning to get around to since we moved into this place back in May. You know, things like painting ugly walls, unpacking annoying full boxes, filing annoyingly piled paperwork, unpacking and storing 300 + plus collection of CDs away in annoyingly expensive binders (which also involved gutting and disposing of all the jewel cases), fixing the parquet in the foyer from where it buckled five seconds after we moved in, and figuring out which Tardis we're going to have everyone bed down in.

Sadie's snowOn Saturday morning, the wife had to go in to see patients at the hospital, so I began tacking down the buckled flooring with finishing nails. It worked brilliantly and I managed to do it in such a way that no one will ever notice there are nails there at all, provided they don't lift the area rug. Moments after finishing the job and feeling quite satisfied and handy about it, I heard the sound of crunching plastic coming from elsewhere in the house. Crunching plastic is never a good sound, particularly with our dog Sadie around. She has mostly stopped chewing up things she's not supposed to, but every now and then she has a relapse and we lose half of an $80 pair of shoes. I followed the sound to our bedroom where I found Sadie lounging atop our bed with the mangled and exposed wires of an electric blanket cord dangling from her mouth, the cord itself plugged directly into an electrical socket.

To put this in horrifying image in extra perspective, since the cold and snow have descended on us here in Borderland we've been sleeping with the electric blanket on every night. And, each morning, the wife arises and leaves the blanket on so that I will continue to be warm and snuggly while I sleep through her shower. Usually I get up to go fix breakfast for her, but I almost never turn off the blanket myself. Sometimes I will notice it later in the day. Other times, the wife will notice it later in the evening. This particular Saturday morning, however, the wife had noticed the blanket was still on and had pointed this fact out to me, even going to far as to turn it off in my presence so that I could see an example of how this process is accomplished and, hopefully, apply it to my mornings in the future. Thusly and no thanks to me, because the circuit to that part of the cord was broken by the off-switch in the control box, mid-way up the cord's length, Sadie had not been electrocuted by her indiscriminate chewing. Of course, the reason the cord had been in sight for her to notice in the first place was because I'd taken the dog-hair-encrusted comforter off the bed to wash it, leaving the electric blanket exposed.

I was sickened and infuriated all at once. Leaving aside my own culpability in the matter, the damn dog shouldn't have been chewing cords to begin with. She's only done that sort of thing once before, but I decided to put the fear of God into her over it to head off future indiscretion. So I screamed at her while she was in mid-chew and chased her around the house screaming at her further about how she can't chew on cords and how she nearly killed herself and was never to do that again until I was pretty sure she was about to wet her doggy pants in terror. And before you write and say something like, "Foolish pet-owner, don't you know that dog's can't understand complex sentences screamed at them," she did bloody well too understand me. I know this because when the wife came home and I showed her the cord, the dog took one look at what I had and slunk out of the room with a guilty and fearful expression on her little doggy puss. Mission accomplished.

Cut to mid-afternoon.

Sadie's snowAvie Kitty and Sadie Dog are good friends at this point. Whenever we take Sadie out on her leash to potty, Avie sits at the back door and mews to come too. It's very cute, so we often let her come outside, at which point she dashes off to explore the flower bed. The cold and snow don't seem to bother her much and she eventually comes to the door to be let in, or takes refuge somewhere beneath the deck. Only, when Avie came back to the door, seemingly to be let in, she dashed away as soon as I'd opened the door for her.

Hours passed, the sky dimmed and it began to grow colder. I stepped out to the edge of the back deck and called the kitty, expecting her to come out from beneath the deck. She didn't, nor was there any rustling to indicate she was even down there. The last time I'd seen her, she'd actually been running away from the deck, so I was betting she was elsewhere entirely. And so went the pattern: I'd go out, call for the cat, she wouldn't come and I'd head back in to repeat the process twenty minutes later. Soon I began walking around the house calling for her, but still no kitty. The wife asked if I was worried about her.

Nah, I said, knowing that cat's are fine outdoors, even in cold, and are prone to wandering. She'd be back.

Of course, it was no coincidence that I decided to have a tuna melt for dinner, nor that I put the remainder of tuna I hadn't used on the back deck as bait. No kitty took it.

As night fell and the temperature began to edge toward the 20s, I couldn't help but feel a bit stressed. The wife, too, began to fret, fearing Avie would freeze to death or that something had devoured her.

"Oh, please," I said. "The dog can't even catch her, so what chance does anything else have?" I went on to espouse my belief that even if Avie was out in the woods somewhere, she would hole up under some leaves or otherwise be perfectly fine in her fur coat. This positivity didn't stop us, though, from bundling up, flashlights in hand and walking around the yard checking treetops for kitties. This search then extended into the trail I've cut into the woods behind our house, then to the street, then down the road, all the while calling, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty," at nearly 10 o'clock at night. No cat. And none of the tuna had been touched when we returned.

Sadness and parental worry in our hearts, we realized there wasn't much else we could do but pray, so we headed to bed, where we worried further, not sleeping.

Just before turning off my light, I decided to fetch the scarf my mother-in-law had given me when we first brought Avie home from her house, which is Avie's favorite item to sleep on. I opened the back door and put it down next to the can of tuna. The tuna had not been touched. Then, just in case, I called, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty."

From beneath the deck, I heard a stirring in the leaves, then Avie poked her head out and climbed up onto the deck. I picked her up and gave her a smooch on her kitty head. She wasn't the least bit cold. I snatched up the tuna can so she could have some before I realized it was frozen solid.

The wife didn't even look up as I set the cat on the bed and only noticed Avie after the kitty she touched the wife's arm with her nose.

"Where was she?"

"Under the deck," I said.

The wife's eyes narrowed.

"If she was under there the whole time, I'm going to kill her."

We decided it was best to think she was just stuck up a tree for a while.


Anonymous said...

I think sleeping in later than the significant other just begs problems. Not too long ago my wife woke up early one Saturday morning and trudged out to do an errand of some sort or another while I slept in.

I wake to her yelling. It took a second or two to process that she in fact had not gone crazy and was yelling at me. Then my heart froze with fear that surely my dog had an "accident", probably trying to wake me up and failed. I'm a heavy sleeper and being half-deaf doesn't help.

The truth was more simple. My dog, patient as ever, decided to let me sleep in. She was however a bit bored and nibblish. She wandered over to our pantry, retrieved a tin of almonds and bought it back to the bedroom. She apparently laid by my side of the bed and while I snoozed. She then must have gently opened up the lid, peeled back the foil, and was quietly picking up some nuts and chewing them.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Sadie inherited more of the border collie muzzle than the St. Bernard jowls. How's the drool factor?


Juice S. Aaron said...

Drool factor is VERY low. She's only drooled excessively a couple of times.

Yeah, now that we're 8 months in, we're not sure how much St. Bernard she has in her. We only occasionally see flashes of that breed in her expressions. I suggested to the wife that we might get her genetically tested to see exactly what she is. The wife suggested we have better things to spend money on. So for now we're content to know that she's just a Sadie.

Anonymous said...

If you get a new electric blanket, get one with auto-shutoff (after 10 hours?). I think it's a Sunbeam, and know that it came from JC Penney.