Saturday, November 20, 2004

Animal House

A gremlin in the house

Living with four animals isn't always easy. I mostly think I've lost my mind, and I've become a kennel-keeper rather than a homeowner.

I go off to work, leaving all four in the house. They're all used to being house animals and the oldest wouldn't survive the Florida heat if left in the yard all day.

I could have been training Jack the Brat, who's now four-five months old, to stay outside, I guess. He was such a tiny kitten, I was afraid a hawk or eagle would get him, even if he didn't stray off and become prey to one of the roaming dogs in the neighborhood.

Jack is at least twice the size he was when I took him in August, but he's not a big cat. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in energy.

One of his favorite pastimes is tormenting Elvis, a portly and slow-moving middle-aged cat. Jack walks sideways up to Elvis, leaps into the air in place to make sure he has Elvis' attention, then jumps on Elvis. The wrestling match begins.

Poor Elvis is so put out with this little brat being in the house, he hisses any time Jack comes within his radar. It doesn't bother Jack.

Betsy (the Best Dog in the World) enjoys Jack's company most of the time. Jack's favorite torment of Betsy is to jump on her head and dig in tooth and claw, sometimes making Betsy yelp. She scrapes him off with her paw and holds him down for a minute.

Other times, Jack and Betsy play a game of chase. Jack is "it." Sometimes I worry that Betsy will end up hurting him, she gets so wound up in the chase. Jack's not the least bit scared -- he moves like greased lightning. And he's the one to start the game.

Whether or not they're roughhousing, Jack and Betsy are best friends. He cuddles up at her side for naps.

Good Old Boy, an elderly retriever, is mostly puzzled by Jack, if he even notices him. Jack has to get right in Good Old Boy's face to get his attention, which lasts only momentarily.

Jack finds other outlets for his energy, like tearing up the house. I came into my computer room/office the other morning to find the keyboard and mouse dangling off the desk by their cords, and the stuffing from a boxed gift shredded over the floor.

Every time the refrigerator opens, he tries to climb in. He thinks anything I'm eating is to be shared with him.

I wake up in the night to thuds and crashes. Burglars? No, just Jack. This morning, I awoke to find the pouffy body scrubber from the shower on the the bed next to me. Jack.

The sheers from the bedroom window were found in a pile on the floor a couple of weeks ago. Jack.

The dogs' water dish spilled all over the floor. Jack.

Teeth marks on my wooden dining-room chairs. (I caught him at it the other day -- standing on his hind feet on the chair's seat, stretching himself up and chewing as hard as he could on the knob? finial? on the back of the chair.) Jack

Paperwork knocked on the floor and scattered all over the room. Jack.

The weights pulled out of the vertical-blind fabric strips -- daily. Jack.

Disappearing shoes. The cordless phone found under the bed. Jack.

Jack, Jack, Jack. Good thing for him he's so adorable.


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