We Are Family
Jul 17 2017

We Are Family

By: Debbie Lindsey

Today I was feeling as jumpy as a cockroach staring down a can of raid, as all the while a rather serious malaise, a lethargy, was settling over me. Anxious, gassy, and just plain moody. I told Boyfriend I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. He reminded me: “It’s that time of the month darlin’. You know you always get like this the first day of every month – it’s your deadline week.”

And he was right. Instead of writing my column at a relaxed pace a little each day, I always tell myself that one week will do it – no sweat, no angst (lots of sweat, lots of sweat). I back myself into that deadline corner every time and bingo I hit The Block.

Today my blocked brain has me miserably dull witted. So dull witted that I just stepped right into a puddle of piddle. Nothing like warm urine between your toes to remind you that Rosie was not auditioning for Hollywood when she danced those frantic little circles – her way to warn me of the impending flood. Sorry Rosie, that you had to suffer that indignity but thanks, for sometimes I find my stories in the oddest places – not being the strangest to date.

Those of you who read my column (a select few since I lack the funds to bribe more) have probably more information about my life than even the most self-absorbed Facebook could provide. Therefore, my leap from writer’s block to a tale with a brief touchdown in urine is no surprise, especially if it involves my little loved ones.

Unless you have kids or manage livestock you have no idea what joy (expense, worry, and exhaustion) cats and dogs can provide. Having a herd of critters is much like raising a bunch of children. And for me, they are our children. I say this not only as one of those folks that have put all their maternal instincts into the anthropomorphic conversion of animal into human, but because drain ya of every bit of energy, money, and time you have and then suck the love right out of you.

As of last count there are two dogs. And cat, and one kitten. Our kitten should count as more due to his ability to upend the household contents with the force of twenty playful terriers. And I am sure there is another critter with a hard luck story out there circling the house looking for a way inside. Most of you already know Rosie the small reddish rump roast with eyes like Audrey Hepburn (though my friend Chris swears she’s a dead ringer for Joan Rivers).

And then there’s Pepper, the black feline beauty, svelte and mean as a snake, striking fear in the hearts of those who even dare to look her in the eye. Now age has actually softened her disposition and Zack the new kitten is teaching her to play (a first for her ever). Zack the Whirling Dervish, is another story.

Unlike Pepper, who as always preferred lounging to any form of movement other than attack, Zack is in perpetual motion. It’s been over thirty years since I’ve had a kitten and… wow. Are they all this way? Will he ever stay still long enough for me to pet him? Zack was kinda intended to be my cat but the little guy has a mind of his own (and too much energy for an old lady like me). He immediately claimed Sophia as his mom and playmate. Sophia, a black Lab mix, whose head is larger than Zack and in no way resembles a cat, has adopted the kitten or should I say the kitten adopted Sophia. Sophia nurses, (at least goes through the motions), grooms, and lends a protective watch over Zack.

Sophia, named by our friend Gloria who said she was as beautiful as Sophia Loren was, came to us as a rescue from the SPCA. Like so many young girls, Sophia fell for some sweet talking player and ended up pregnant and alone on the doorsteps of the SPCA. Her litter was adopted but she seemed doomed to languish a ward of the state. She had so many advocates – volunteers who took a special interest in her, fostering her, funding her heart worm treatment – but none were able to adopt her. Her hero Gallivan, a volunteer, made sure she escaped the Big Sleep by hooking us up with her. He knew we would be a soft touch, as we had a big empty space in our family since Ginger the Lab had passed away. It was love at first sight. Sophia is simply all about the love.

If Sophia is the love machine then Rosie is the love vampire. She’s an independent little lady who has somehow crawled inside my heart – she drains love from me. She’s an aloof Auntie Mame – doesn’t fawn all over you but is a swell drinking buddy. Many a happy hour Rosie would take a seat at the bar, perched too high to jump, she would then succumb to my patting and gaze attentively, yet demurely at her bartender, melting his heart and depleting his supply of dog treats. She’s sweet as all get out but her true devotion is to food – except when it came to Ginger. She loved that dog. Little Rosie would climb up on Ginger’s back just a humpin’ and a ridin’ that pony. Oh, folks would tell us it was just a dominance thing but I swear to god Rosie would smile like a drunken sailor.

Here I sit, intending to write about the unintended servitude of motherhood that has been placed upon me – me, the never-wanted-children gal who was so relieved when menopause sealed the deal. Never say never; motherhood found me. And, make no mistake; motherhood is not species specific – just look at Sophia wet nursing her kitten. Motherhood is when you love without cause or simply because they need you and I promise you the feeling of need goes both ways. In spite of all the urine samples gathered, the endless litter boxes, pooper scooping, flea baths, pee soaked rugs, endless visits to the vet, and endless tears when the prognosis is awful – in spite of all this the sense of duty and love is overriding.

And I will remind myself of this when Boyfriend and I visit Walgreens to replenish the supply of adult-size incontinence pads for my little old lady, Rosie, who still prefers my oriental rugs. The cashier just looks at us with a sympathy reserved for old geezers – it will do no good to blame it on the dog.

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