My Life Has Gone to the Dogs: Everyday Magic, Day 998

“It’s like an animal daycare here,” said my friend Laurie, here to give Shay some doggy acupuncture today. She was right, and with two dogs and two cats, it’s also a canine and feline exercise and mindfulness training program, continually interrupting what I thought I was doing to point my attention toward a higher power. Never underestimate the call of the dogs to go outside. Add in the cats, whose needs must be met whenever they arise because: cats, and you can imagine how much practice I get sitting down only to stand up again.

It wasn’t always like this. For years, we had a constant balance of three animals, mostly two cats and a dog, and occasionally a cat and two dogs. But the addition of Moxie — a border collie with a bit of rat terrier in her — to our trio of Shay the dog, and Miyako and Sidney Iowa, the cats — the balance has shifted even more from the two-leggeds to the four-leggeds. Working at home means I’m in the thick of Animal Kingdom much of the time, and wherever I am in or around the house, they must be also. I could be in my favorite chair, laptop fully engaged, or at the kitchen table meeting with a client over Zoom, or on the front porch, talking on the phone with someone to plan an event, and I will be interrupted. Repeatedly. Just about everyone I work with has heard barking, meowing, and doors opening and closing often.

The animals must of course situate themselves around each other and me. If I pace as I talk on the phone, sometime I’m prone to do, the animals must pace too. If I head to the kitchen to make tea, there they are, herding me toward the stove (particularly the border collie, who can’t help herself). If I need to concentrate — especially in the middle of composing a sentence, revising a poem, or editing a manuscript — someone will leap, hiss, yelp, or knock over something loud just as I’m struggling the most to find the right word or punctuation.

At the same time, I really like being part of a pack. Besides never feeling alone, the mammals do the same thing for me as the meditation bell I downloaded onto my computer, which rings every hour: they stop me in my tracks. I more or less have to look up from the bottom of my rabbit hole to see what else the world holds: three crows balancing on a branch of Cottonwood Mel, the wind picking up and clouds filling in, and a big, lazy cat in the window sill who wants back in. I use the meditation bell to make myself pause for five minutes, breathe and meditate, and check in with how I’m feeling and navigating.

Mostly, I discover that whatever I thought was set in stone or anxiously urgent actually isn’t. Instead, there’s fur-covered faces staring intently in my direction, saying, wake up as well as get off your ass and feed us! I do because I don’t want to be in the doghouse with these animals or with my own habitual deadends. Besides, there’s a lot to learn from surrendering to a higher power even if it does take the form of muddy paw tracks all over the house.

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Karma, a Disgruntled Cat, and the Bob-Tailed Squirrel: Everyday Magic, Day 881

IMG_0712For years a certain squirrel has tormented my cats, strutting his stuff in slow motion from the deck railing while both kitties watched from inside the house The more agitated the cats, the more indulgent the squirrel. He even jumped to the window that separated them, and the cats on the inside window sill and the squirrel on the outside, mocking them in his miniature parade of pride.

If the windows are Cat TV, the squirrel was a daily reality show designed to inflame cat desires and piss them off. As such, it had high ratings: the cats were glued to watching the squirrel who caused them no end of aggravation.

Karma takes many forms, even that of a fat cat. Although we try to keep our cats indoor because of the coyotes in the area, Sidney Iowa Goldberg has a habit of getting out, thanks to Shay the Dog who graciously opening the door for himself and the cat. Having a dog who can open many manner of doors and a cat jonesing to escape the safe bonds of the house is beyond our control, generic cialis safe although Sid is pretty overweight and moves so slowly that he’s relatively easy to catch. Either that, or he comes bounding to the door within an hour, having been taught well by the dog that this is how you get back in.IMG_0707

The other day when Sid went on his afternoon walkabout, I didn’t think much of it, and as usual, I was relieved when he raced to the door to come back in. The next morning, just when it was time for the squirrel show to begin (it starts as soon as it’s light out), a curious thing happened. The squirrel returned, but not his tail. Strangely enough, the cats weren’t as interested in the squirrel channel, and they also seemed strangely at peace while Mr. Squirrel walked along the railing with a whole lot less confidence or balance.

While I can’t prove Sidney bit off the squirrel’s tail, it sure seems like a good possibility. In the meantime, the bob-tailed squirrel is struggling with low ratings, but hopefully, still enough fallen bird seed and acorns to get by.

Kitty Goes Away, Kitty Comes Back and the Stages In Between: Everyday Magic, Day 443

When the cat shot out the door Tuesday evening, so did my heart. We live in coyote territory, and having lost two cats already to the howling in the night, I especially didn’t want to lose Miyako, one of my favorite animals of all time. This is a cat who lives for love, focusing most of her energy, when she’s not sleeping (or sleeping on top of one of us), on showing great affection for all of us. She often sleeps on my chest at night or in the crook of my arm, and when she was little, Natalie and I carried her so much that I seriously considered getting a cloth baby carrier.

For hours, I opened the door, stepped outside and meowed because when she’s gotten out before, she has meowed back when she was close. I also called her at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., etc. By morning, I was frantic, especially since she wasn’t at the door. I climbed the hills looking for her, and drove all over the farm before having to leave for a gig in El Dorado. Daniel then spent three hours combing the land for any sign (or — let it not be! — remains). Throughout the day, I went through many kitty-is-gone stages of grief:

  • Bargaining: I promised all the gods and goddesses and any other entities out there that I would do the dishes more, be kinder to others, and show my kitty even more attention.
  • Denial: She’s right here, and if I can just meow enough, she’ll appear.
  • Depression: So there were tears. “It’s just a cat, Mom!” Daniel said, which made me most upset because “just a cat” is more than enough to break your heart.
  • Psychic Guessing: I imagined all kinds of scenarios and had friends tell me if they thought she was okay. “I think she is. I just feel it,” said Kris, and later, Natalie.
  • Facebook Mobilization: I asked friends to pray and wish for her return. I wasn’t completely surprised by how much people “got it.”
  • Thrashing Around: Banging things and making noise, not being able to get comfortable in my own skin.
  • Reluctance to eat, sleep, talk coherently or do anything with any concentration.

Finally, I escaped the stages of kitty-loss through kitty-return. I stepped outside, still weepy and depressed at 10 p.m. last night and meowed, but this time, I heard a response. We call-and-response meowed with each other for a while until Miyako came out from under the house, probably here all the time. I gathered her in my arms and cried in happiness. The utter joy of the prodigal cat can erase all those kitty loss stages in an instance. And what did I do after she was settled in? I washed the dishes.

Cats Taught Us To Lie: Everyday Magic, Day 169

Liars! That’s our cats are, and most likely, so are yours. They lie so seamlessly, so naturally that it’s becoming clear to us that they must have taught humans how to lie.

I walked in the door after yoga today, and immediately Miyako, our sweet little cat, rushed to the laundry room threshold and told me that Ken wasn’t home yet, and no one had fed her dinner. “You don’t eat dinner until bedtime,” I reminded her, only to meet Judy, our big, mean PTSD cat, who backed up Miyako’s story, and said they eat when we eat. I thought of pouring them some food, but then I heard Ken rustling around in the other room, and when I went in to say hello, he said, “Just got here, and just fed the cats.”

This is what cats do: they lie their furry butts off. “I want to go out,” they tell us, but no, they really want to stand on the threshold and ponder their past life as horses. They haven’t been fed for days, weeks even when really, they just ate. They hate cheese, wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole, and they hate dogs too, but really, they love all things dairy and have been known to party with the canines on occasion.

I have no doubt that cats — “bandits in fur pants” as my friend Stephanie calls them — not only are liars but the ones who taught us to lie. And what I’m saying is the truth, honest and cross my heart.