Animals

The animals in my house are strange. But perhaps that is merely a reflection on their owners?

The cat, who goes by the name of Halo, is a five year old calico. My children regularly dress the poor creature in doll clothes. They give her baths in our bathtub, using baby shampoo. Remarkably, my children never get scratched or bitten. The cat puts up with anything they do to her. They will load her into a doll stroller, positioned in a sitting position like a doll, and she’ll just remain in that position until my children pick her up and move her to some other location—such as their purses or backpacks. I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched the cat go by, head jauntily poking from a bag, contentedly watching the world go by. In fact, the animal seems to enjoy the attention. The creature gets carried around so much by one daughter or another that it wouldn’t surprise me if her legs have entirely atrophied. Halo seems hardly ever to have the need to actually walk by herself.

As regards the bathing, the cat appears to have an actual fondness for water. In my experience, ordinary cats are not like that. They shake their paws in disgust if they should happen to even see in a puddle. Halo is not like other cats. She will hop in the tub with my children when they are bathing and seems to take delight in getting soaked. She’s not so fond of the electric hair dryer, however. She does prefer to just naturally air dry.

It used to be that I kept her bowl full of food on the floor of the bathroom. In a nearby cabinet, I kept a cup full of her food to refill her bowl so that I didn’t have to walk back to the garage every time she meowed demanding it be refilled should it ever happen to dip below the top rim of the bowl. She rarely actually ate food from that bowl on the floor however. Instead, she opened the cabinet door, poked her head in, and ate from the cup instead.

She has a water bowl which is kept constantly filled with fresh water next to the food. She ignores it and prefers to either lap water from the bottom of the shower or to pilfer it from the dog’s bowl in the kitchen.

Yes, we also have a dog. A poodle that my wife rescued from the pound. He is very grateful to my wife for rescuing him from doggy prison and follows her around the house. If she is in the kitchen, he sits on the floor by her feet. If she is in the living room, he sits on the couch next to her. When she comes home after work, he jumps straight up and down repeatedly by the door in greeting. Of course, he is no less excited if she returns to the house after merely walking to the mail box to get the mail.

The dog is named Snicker—short for Snicker Poodle (yes, it is a pun and my wife did it on purpose. In fact, she had the name ready before she even went looking through the dog pounds in search of a mutt to pin it on.) The high point of Snicker’s day is his nightly eleven PM walk. Just before my wife and I go off to bed, we snap a leash on the dog’s collar and take him on a walk around the block. As soon as he sees us putting on our jackets and shoes, or even moving in the general direction of the front door, he begins that excited vertical leaping behavior.

Snicker’s walk consists of him spending a lot of time enjoying the smells around the neighborhood. He seems particularly joyful when he catches a whiff of one of the neighbor cats—as if he doesn’t have one of his own in his house. Nothing else seems to interest him. Although a raccoon lives in a nearby storage drain that we pass every night, Snicker has no interest in him at all, never reacting in the slightest to the wild beast. But if a cat is within a block of him, his nose twitches, his body goes ridged, and he peers intently in the direction from which the odor wafted.

Snicker barks at no one. I suspect that if we ever have an intruder his reaction will be to wag his tail and lick the thief’s face. The only way he’d be of service against a criminal is if we attached him to his leash and swung him at the bad guy. A watch dog he isn’t. Well, unless the bad guy turned out to be a cat. In which case he’d bark and chase the miscreant all over the neighborhood.

But what are the odds that we’d have a real cat burglar?

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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