I popped downstairs last night to grab another cup of tea and when I came back to my work space I found I had a visitor. Our outdoor cat, Captain Charlie Awesome, had come to check out my new work space.
Our home is divided into distinct pet friendly zones which limits the access of our 2 yellow labs to the main floor of the house. The one and only time one of them made it upstairs was in the puppy years. An empty house and an unlocked crate allowed for what must have been a glorious stretch of hours in which newspapers and toilet paper were spread from one end of the house to another and several “special gifts” were left on each and every bed as well as on the floor beside the bed in the master bedroom. Without a doubt it was my fault. That isn’t the reason though that we confine the dogs to the main floor. It has more to do with providing a space for our cats free of friendly but extremely slobbery canine attention when desired or required. The cats also rule the basement as we try to limit our dogs’ intake of kitty litter crunchies. The main floor is where we spend most of our time so it doesn’t weigh too heavily on the boys.
Our dogs are brothers from the same litter. The larger, John A. Macdonald, better known as Mac, dominates by size but his stockier brother Lester B. (short for Lester B. Pearson) gets by just fine on cunning and charm. I’m an advocate of pets for life. You take them-you keep them so I wouldn’t change anything now. That being said if I knew then what I know now I would have thought twice about taking in two puppies at once. Admittedly it’s twice the cuteness, sweetness and love but it’s also twice the mayhem, murder and mess. Maybe you’re the next Caesar Milan and that sort of situation doesn’t faze you but if someone asked me I’d say from our experience that two dogs are great but train one and then get another. Cats of course are a different matter…they are basically who they’re going to be right from the beginning. The newest member of our furry pack (Princess) Lola Mae (Piwacket) likes to play fetch with her ball and sits in one of the dogs’ crates when they eat their dinner so she can have a little snack too. She’s our first stab at an indoor cat and despite coming from a farm she’s taken to the house quite well with the exception of when her dog brothers head out to play without her. She cries, LOUDLY, the entire time they’re gone. Our outdoor cat, Charlie, is usually a bit of a lone wolf but he has his moments.
Why do we have an indoor cat and an outdoor cat? We have an outdoor cat because we live in a rural area and he works to keep the rodent and rabbit population down in our yard. Several years ago someone decided to let domestic rabbits loose in our hamlet. They of course breed prodigiously (like rabbits, ha-ha, except it’s not really funny). They are quite destructive to lawns and gardens and they attract larger predators like coyotes. Technically Lola Mae was to have the same job as Charlie but she’s ridiculously cute and an absolute torment to Charlie so we have decided to keep her in the house for the time being.
So as I said, last night Charlie was in my new work space checking things out. It is just as new for the pets as it is for me. My space on the main floor was connected to the house by a door off the dining room that used to be an exterior door. Visits from the dogs weren’t unusual. Though quite different in personality both Lester B and Mac would employ the same technique. One or both would lie outside the door and wait for me to acknowledge their existence. If that didn’t happen in a timely fashion, there would be a heartfelt sigh, and then another, and then another if the desired invitation to visit wasn’t extended. Once inside the enclosed porch a dog that placed a head on my lap could expect a proper scratching with maybe a belly rub to follow. Unfortunately sibling rivalry often surfaced requiring banishment for both- you just can’t have that kind of shoving in a small space and my lap is not big enough for 65 plus 75 pounds of dog respectively. Cats don’t require any kind of invitation to drop in. The distraction they provide is purely of their nature. There are attempts to drink the water used to clean paint brushes or half-finished cups of cold tea, games of bat the pencil or a head-butt while you’re trying to draw just to name a few. And of course there’s the hair…not the greatest mix with applied finishes.
Now I’m on the second floor and there won’t be any visits from Lester B or Mac and probably not too many from Lola Mae who thinks she’s one of the dogs. It is winter now so Charlie is in the house more but come summer I’ll probably be seeing less of him as well. I suppose I’ll get more work done with fewer distractions and not having to check every surface I’m varnishing before and after for cat or dog hair. That being said I always feel like a space is a little more alive with a friendly furry presence about.
Last night’s play list standout in honour of Charlie’s visit is Ry Cooder’s entire CD “My Name is Buddy” which Wikipedia lists as a social political concept album. You can look at it as political piece or just enjoy the music about the travels of Buddy the cat and his friends.