Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'll have a Kitten and a Puppy Please!

Me and Max, Waiting for the AaB Meeting To Start
So last night,  I was sitting on the couch, going back and forth between the television and my laptop screen, waiting for my online meeting to start.  Max decided my lap looked comfortable and just climbed right on up there.  He's my furry lump of comfort.

A small item in yesterday's paper caught my eye.  It was a little article done by The Washington Post and picked up by our local newspaper.  The title reads:  Dogs, cats may be our best friends.  This is so not news to me!

Here's what the article said:

Lots of research has indicated that having a dog or a cat can help people live happier, healthier lives.  But it's been unclear whether there really is a cause-and-effect relationship between pet ownership and better physical and mental health.  Now, new research adds further evidence that the benefits of having a canine or feline companion are real and broad.

A team of psychologists from Miami University and Saint Louis University conducted studies aimed at trying to tease out the benefits of pet ownership.

In the first part of the research, 217 people answered detailed questionnaires online designed to determine whether pet owners tend to be different from people who do not own pets.  The survey assessed variables such as depression, loneliness, self-esteem, illness, activity level and how people related to others.  The researchers found that pet owners tended to be less lonely, have higher self-esteem, get more exercise, and be more extroverted and less fearful about getting close to people.

In the second study, the researchers gathered detailed information about how 56 dog owners related to their dogs and to other people.

(Rob Stein for The Washington Post, July 26, 2011)

Well, this just totally justifies my owning two cats and a dog, doesn't it?  I already know that if I am having a lonely moment, I simply need to call Max and he is more than willing to waddle his fat self over and jump up on my lap and start purring.  In fact, if I touch that cat, he purrs.  If he is eating, he purrs.  I've never heard anything like it.  Wouldn't it be great if the simple act of eating made humans that happy?  I know, I know, I love to eat too, but there are only a few foods that I would think are purr-worthy.

Last night, Justin was talking on the phone with his mom and she said a German Shepherd with a collar and tags had wandered into her driveway yesterday.  An animal control person in a truck was following the dog and asked her if the dog belonged to her.  As she said no, the dog walked up to her and sat down at her feet, leaning against her.  Okay, dog.  You don't really belong to her!  But weird things like that happen to my mother in law and I have to wonder if it was Justin's dad stopping by to tell her he's still around.

My mother in law asked the animal person if they had to take the dog and what was going to happen to it.  She said, "You're not going to put it down, are you?  Because if you're going to put it down, I'll take it!"  The animal warden reassured her that they would definitely not put the dog down.  They have a no kill policy.  She was relieved and allowed the dog to go with the guy to see if they could find the owner.

My in laws have a long animal history.  Justin had collies all of his life - Lolly and Dolly the collies.  After Justin moved out, there was Tasha, the Alaskan malamute, and two shih-tzus whose names I should remember because they lived with his parents for around 15 or 20 years.  But they were something foreign and all that comes to mind is "Miko" for one of them.  No idea on the other one.

Tasha, the Malamute

There were also numerous indoor and outdoor cats.  In fact, my mother in law became a sort of makeshift drop off point for people who were abandoning their cats and there were dozens of cats on the property by the time they sold the it to a developer and moved.  My in laws love animals so much that they had a whole building put up at their new house devoted solely to the feral cats that could not be indoor animals.  They have regular vet visits and all have been fixed so that they can't make more feral cats.  My father in law was a huge help in taking care of these cats and now one of the decisions my mother in law must make is what to do with all of those cats, because really it's too much for her to do on her own.

One of the things that was put into my father in law's obituary earlier this month is how much he loved his pets.  There are numerous indoor cats that remain at my mother in law's house.  Dotsy is the one that immediately springs to mind.  She is a black tortoiseshell kitty that he was especially fond of.  She has a special blanket that is kept in the middle of the couch that is her bed and she will fuss if anyone sits there in her spot.  She is at least 20 years old, a grand age for a cat.  She's friendly and sweet and he loved her so much.  You can tell that this cat knows something is wrong.  Animals know their owners.  I don't care what anyone says.  My animals know who I am and they would know if I wasn't here.  Dotsy knows that Otis hasn't come back and she is sad and confused.  As are the other cats that he loved so much.

(Aside - I did not start this post with the intention of writing about my father in law, but that's where it went and after I wrote that, I had to take a ten minute break to sob into Justin's shoulder.)

My family was a little different.  My parents are not really pet people, although they both had animals growing up.  They just feel that pets are an encumbrance and they love the feeling of being able to pick up and go anywhere they want without having to worry about who is going to take care of the animals.  I did have several cats growing up.  My favorite, Charlotte, was a tuxedo beauty who I got as a kitten when we lived in Vienna.  She lived until I was pregnant with my oldest son.  We had to have her put to sleep at age 13 due to what was most likely stomach cancer.  I was so broken up that I wussed out and ended up having Justin and my dad take her to be put to sleep.  Justin stayed with her and said she was obviously ready to go because they only had to use about half the medicine they usually use.  She was nothing but skin and bones at the end.

Charlotte, My Tuxedo Baby
I have had so many cats over the years that I can't begin to remember them all.  Some of them became members of the family and some of them simply did not fit in.  One cat bit one of the kids and had to be given up to someone who didn't have children.  One kitten came to me with worms and was very sick.  We only had her for a couple of days, but she was a beauty. 

I have only recently arrived at the conclusion that a dog is a necessity and I am only just now, after almost a year of dog ownership, really understanding why people love their dogs.  I always saw them as smelly, messy, wet, sloppy, pains in the butt that you had to rush home to feed and let outside to do their business. They are a pain when you need to go away if you don't have a neighbor who is a dog lover.  Jack has been quite an adjustment, but as so many bad things have happened in our lives since he has come into it, I have discovered just how comforting having a dog can be.  They sense when you are sad and they are always there for you.  You can hang onto a dog unlike anything you could do to a cat.  Jack is big enough for major hugs and he is very patient.  And he's just damned funny.  I have got to figure out how the video feature works on my camera because if I could get some of his antics on video, it would be priceless.  For now though, I will leave you with these images:

They are quite a pair, aren't they?  Don't those picture just scream, "Come and take me!!!!"  Yes, my pets are total sluts.  Well, these two, at any rate.



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