The number of animals in our household equals the number of humans, if you don’t count the fish. If you do count the fish, then the animals have us 2-to-1. But I digress (already?). All our animals – again, excluding the fish – were rescued in one way or another. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent, as they deserve what they get. I love them each to pieces.
First, and oldest, is Bruce the Cocker Spaniel. We got Bruce when he was maybe 7 months old. Adorable, right? The friend of Spouse’s employee was moving and couldn’t have a dog at the new place. Bruce was going to be taken to the pound if a new home wasn’t found, so he ended up here. His name when we got him was Happy. There was no way I could call a dog “Happy” and not nearly lose it, so we decided a new name was in order. Little Man was in his Nemo-obsessed phase, and Bruce the shark was one of his favorite characters. Thus, Bruce ended up with his new name. Bruce is now 8 1/2 years old. He’s a typical cocker, aka pain in the tush. He’s an alert barker, and since the windows in our front room don’t have blinds or curtains, and owing to the fact there are window seats in each of those windows, he sits there all day and barks his fool head off at everything and everyone who comes into view. I know he thinks he’s protecting us. But seriously, it’s enough to push a person over the edge, particularly when you’re on a conference call you can’t mute, and you have to explain the very loud round of barking in the background. Bruce can be a wee bit temperamental, and he is definitely the alpha male. He can also be needy in that typical small-dog way. He wants in our laps, even though he is a large cocker and doesn’t really fit. Oh, and he just LOVES to pull tissue out of the trash cans and shred it, leaving paper trails all over the house. He also snoodles all over any blanket, towel, or shirt left on the floor. He had lately taken up a habit of pooping in Spouse’s favorite work shoes (those are in the trash now), apparently mad we took the carpeting out of our room and replaced it with wood flooring. I have to clean my front windows every other day for the marks he leaves with his nose while staring out said windows. He hates my vacuum cleaner. If it’s left out where he can get to it, he pees on it. Every. Single. Time. He frequently meanders through the fountain in our courtyard, then bolts into the house, leaving a trail of wet, often also muddy, paw prints. He particularly loves doing this right after I’ve cleaned the wood floors. Bruce is a bolter. Seriously. If he gets out, he takes off like a shot down the street, and it’s game on. I usually have to get in the car to chase him down. He thinks it’s a big game.
Next up is Livvy the Labrodoodle. She’s actually 75% lab, and just 25% standard poodle, so guess what? She sheds like a fiend. I’m fairly sure she can walk into a room, and intentionally shoot loose fur all over the place. I sweep our downstairs every day, and vacuum the family room every other day for this reason. I often believe I could cover create a new, large dog out of all the fur she sheds within a week. Being a lab, Livvy is an opportunist. She also has separation anxiety, even though she has two dogs and two cats to entertain her when we’re gone. If I’m not careful about closing the pantry door, completely cleaning off any dishes left in the sink, pushing any edible items to the very center of the kitchen island, and making sure there isn’t a pan of oil left on the stove, she will have it within minutes of us walking out the door. She once even pulled a crockpot (think the heaviest ceramic you can) full of water and a little bit of chicken off the kitchen counter while I took the kids to school. You guessed it – shattered the pot, and left water all over the kitchen floor. If some snack box is missing, she’s typically hauled it to the back yard and gone to town. And that thing about dogs dying from eating chocolate? Yeah, that doesn’t hold water for Livvy. She’s eaten full containers of Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and fudge, and never blinked an eye. She has an iron stomach. Oh yeah, she’s pretty easy to train to do anything else, except stop counter surfing and nosing her way into the pantry. We bought her a feeder bowl to slow down her intake at meal times. She learned to lay down and hook her dew claw over the edge of the bowl to hold it still so she can inhale as quickly as she ever did. She is very submissive, the sweetest dog I’ve ever had in my life, but OY! she takes a lot of mental energy to stay ahead. If Livvy gets out by herself, she will usually just go say hello to the three dogs across the street, see if the kids next door are outside, and then meander back home. If she gets out with Bruce, forget it. They’re having a party running all around – and I do mean all around – the neighborhood. When we finally get them home, she lays down in the fountain mentioned above. She loves to lay on clean clothes. If she finds even one sock on the floor, she will lay on it. Every stuffed animal becomes her “baby” (at least until she rips all the stuffing out). She carries socks around the house. I’m forever finding lonely socks in the pantry, the kitchen, the stairs, hallway, and backyard.
Our youngest canine is Maizy the Yorkie. I found her on the walking/running trail that goes around our neighborhood. She was following another runner. I stopped and said, “That’s really cool your dog follows you without a leash while you run!” The runner responded it wasn’t her dog, it had been following her the last quarter mile. I couldn’t leave this little girl out there. We have lots of open space around us. Coyotes, hawks, raccoon, possum, and skunks roam at will. She would have been a midnight snack. She came home with me, and we made every effort to find her humans. Five days later, she became a permanent part of our household. I never, ever wanted a little tiny dog. They’re usually yippy, ankle biters. Maizy is too cute for words, and very attached to me. She follows me everywhere. She sleeps by my side or at my feet. She will only sit on my left side when I sit in my green recliner. She loves to lay in blankets. She does NOT like to have the hood put up on her sweater. She will bark when the other dogs bark, even though there’s no way she can see what they’re barking at out the front window. If Spouse sleeps in on the weekends, she will stand on his chest and bark until he wakes up. He gives them their treats when he goes downstairs in the morning, and she that’s how she lets him know he’s behind schedule.
We have two cats, Willie and Keela. Keela is your typical cat-cat. We got her from the Humane Society for free. Her eyelashes were growing into her eyes, so they’d had to remove part of her eyelids and they couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t have to be done again, thus no fee for adopting her. She’s black, fluffy, independent, and does not like the dogs. She terrorizes Maizy, often trapping her upstairs or down just by blocking Maizy’s path. She will avoid Little Man all day, but when it’s time to go to bed, she’s in his room, on his bed. Her eyes do look a little weird. Her eyeteeth often hang over her upper lip (I call her Dracula when she does that). She has allergies for which she gets shots. She only likes to drink fresh water, preferably with the tap running. She turns her nose up at the community water bowls.
Last is Willie. We’ve had him almost three years. His mom was a feral cat. The kittens were rescued and hand-fed. They spent their early weeks with a litter of puppies. He’s not quite sure what he is. He talks, a lot. He won’t eat unless we walk him to his food and purr at him. He often sleeps sprawled on his back. He wrestles with Maizy. In typical cat fashion, he tries to get in every box he can find. He will paw your face while you’re sleeping so you will wake up and pet him. He is a hunter though. I can, in the nice weather, almost daily count on an offering of some sort…..birds, lizards, mice, grasshoppers, large butterflies. At least five times a year, I’ll come home to a room full of feathers. Another bird bites the dust. I try to stop him before he finishes them off. I’ve become rather adept at catching lizards and relocating them outside, where they’re sure to be caught again. Willie is the weirdest cat I’ve ever had. He’s pretty big too at nearly 13 pounds. He’s made many friends in the neighborhood. Pretty sure he has a few feeding spots.
There ya go. The animal side of our Herd in all its glory. This is a big part of why I say I’m allowed to live here and be the Herd caretaker. If I’m not hauling kids around, I’m dealing with these animals and all their quirks. Lucky me.