Monday, June 22, 2009

Pack Animals, Snack Animals

I sometimes feel like I live in a petting zoo. Four indoor/outdoor animals can get more than a little bit hairy at time. Throw a baby in the mix...and it is more than hairy. It is down right furry. I returned from being out of town today to a giant green hair ball on the baby's changing table, a welcome home gift from one of the cats.

Lil' Bit runs with a pack. Clancy, Pumpkin, Mazy, and Pork Chop are a motley crew of animals that she hangs out with all day long. Her posse includes two mutts and two tabby cats and the five of them together are a force to be reckoned with. Two weeks ago she started to grow her canine teeth in solidarity with her carnivorous friends. They are the only two teeth she has on top...our little vamp baby!

The pets play a major role in her daily life. Every morning I bring Lil' Bit downstairs and I fix her a bottle. We plop down on the couch and within 2 minutes, Pork Chop comes bounding into the room up on the coffee table. He waits for Lil' Bit to get done with her milk and then the two of them have their morning petting ritual. The cat climbs onto the couch and lays down just out of reach. She crawls over and slaps him on the back, pounding him five or six times. He loves it.

At least twice a day I find Lil' Bit in the dog bed with Pumpkin and Clancy. She likes to sneak up on them when they are sleeping and poke them in the eyes. Understandably, this torture causes them to get up and hide under the kitchen table. Since she started crawling, when the dogs ran away from her precarious pointer she would just happily follow them where ever they went, totally unaware of the fact they were rejecting her. Two weeks ago that all changed.

Lil' Bit was messing with the pups and they both retreated under the kitchen table. She looked up at me from the middle of the floor as tears welled up in her little eyes. Her tiny pink bottom lip quivered as she let out a cry. It was the cry of first rejection. I had a flash forward to middle school...the bitch clique getting up from the table at the cafeteria leaving her to eat alone. I swooped up my little girl from the tile floor and we both crawled under the kitchen table to confront the dogs.

I took Lil' Bits hand and showed her how to gently stroke the dogs backs, rather than yank on their fur. They sat there patiently during the lesson and then Clancy stood up to scratch his back on the underside of the table. He knocked the baby over, who then resumed crying. C'est la vie. "Shake it off, girl. You are Okay!" That is one lesson to be learned from the pups...and middle school girls for that matter. Sometimes you just have to shake it off.

Lil' Bit exacts her revenge right where it hurts the dogs the most. She likes to taunt them with food. I watch her cruise up to Pumpkin, cracker in hand and wave it in the little dog's mug. When Pumpkin gets close to take a lick, Lil' Bit snatches it away clutching it to her chest. Then she laughs in Pumpkin's face. It is kinda terrible, but hilarious at the same time. More often than not though, Lil' Bit hands over the snack. Pumpkin strikes with a snack attack, tickling Lil' Bit's hand with kisses as she snatches the food. Stealing from the baby.

At meal time the dogs circle like wolves...their eyes lowered to the floor as they wait to pounce on any morsel of food that may drop. Gravity is one of Lil' Bit's favorite toys and her spoon is in constant free fall throughout each meal...regardless if we are at home or in a fine dining establishment. At home I at least have a team of vacuum cleaners willing to lick up the mess...and they do a fine job in the kitchen when Chef is cooking up a storm.

There are perks to having lots of pets. They earn their keep, I suppose. They provide constant amusement for Lil' Bit...entertainment way better than television. If only they could do something about the constant shedding of gather it up and build a nest to sleep in so at least it would be all in one place. There is nothing like brushing your teeth for three minutes only to realize that a dog hair has woven itself into the weave of your tooth's one of those things that happens and you just have to look at your self in the mirror and tell yourself "Shake it off."

*As a side note...the picture above was taken by our good friend Hal. He is a professional racecar photographer and he took this shot of Pumpkin and Clancy at sunset on a visit this spring. It totally captures the two of them perfectly. Pumpkin with her ears all flipped back like the total spazz that she is...and Clancy, Mr. Serious. I love it!


Ingrid said...


Anonymous said...

i thought i was bad with my 1 dog and 1 cat and i baby on the way! you are double that, nan! but i think you are so right about animals being way better entertainment for babies than some stupid tv. and i think it's great she is around them as a young child, because it's so sad when you see the kids who shy away from big dogs because they are scarred of them. i hope Rascal likes the new addition to our family, as much as we do! Heather

Anonymous said...

Nan.... Just the cutest story about your whole gang, baby and all. I can just see her in all the details you describe. Hope everything else is going well in your life! Take care.....