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Missing: Pet Mojo

1 October 2008

A confession: Since we’ve gotten back to Iowa, the pets are really getting on my nerves. Some of it they can’t help, some of it is behavior I haven’t figured out how to change yet, and some of it is the heightened level of busy of the other household members.

I should mention that I never considered myself much of a pet person. I’d be happy with no pets at all — when they were younger, I had two kids to clean up after and to discipline, I didn’t see the need to add a few more living things to look after. Now, my girls are pretty self sufficient, but we still have to “take care” of the pets. Where’s the care-free lifestyle in that?

First, the cat. Last month he was throwing up repeatedly. Not the typical yellow bile that he’s done before, but just clear, foamy saliva. he wasn’t eating as much as usual. We thought he may have swallowed a string. I brought him to the vet, and was told “just watch him”. I was told “if it gets worse bring him back in”. It slowly went away on its own, and he seemed his old self. (But that didn’t stop me having to pay vet bills.) In the past 5 days, he has been leery of jumping up high, and was sleeping much more than usual. Instead of bringing him in, I watched him. It looks like it’s going away on its own, but — sheesh — I don’t want this to be a monthly problem!

Also, we had moved his litter box to the basement, so the bathroom by the kitchen wouldn’t be odiferous. Recently, we all noticed that the basement smelled terrible. Was he having accidents in the piles of dirty laundry the girls were leaving down there? No. Loki had decided that he didn’t need no stinkin’ litter box when there was a perfectly good dirt floor under the stairs (this is an old basement of an old house; the basement has a cement floor, but they didn’t bother with that in the unreachable place underneath the stairs). So now I’m going to have to figure out a way to get any waste out from under there and douse the area in — what? — Nature’s Miracle? bleach solution? I have no idea. And I’m not too enthused about this chore, in any case. Then we’ll have to put in some wooden boards on the vertical bits of each stair so he won’t be able to go back in there and do it again.

Then, the dog. We used to be able to just stick her out back and she would do her business. We had an invisible fence along the fenced yard, and life was easy — she’d get plenty of outdoor time, and it would only be in the winter that I would need to take her for a walk once a day to give her some exercise. Then, this past year, without a fenced-in yard, she needed walks. The girls would give her one in the morning before school, and I would give her a nice, long one in the afternoon.

Since returning, Zephyr has forgotten how to just let loose when we put her out. She had accidents (which added to the urine smell on our couches from the tenant’s dogs). We started putting her in her crate at night. She started having accidents in her crate. I began giving her a walk most days (if I had the time and I remembered). But the damage had been done; as I’ve mentioned, she has a UTI, and so on top of everything else, Zephyr needs antibiotics for ten days. So now I take her out for a brief pee first thing in the morning (the girls are out the door by 7:15 each morning, rather than the 7:50 they left for school in NH), for a real walk in the afternoons, and for another brief pee in the evening.

Oh, and did I mention that somehow our invisible fence isn’t working? The Consort tried to find the cut in the line, but hasn’t been successful. That means that Zephyr has made a break for it several times. I can’t just trust her out there at all. Supposedly there is a contractor for the kind of fence we have here in the area, but the Consort hasn’t had the time to call them (his class schedule, book schedule, committee schedule, and soon trip to China schedule just puts that call waaaaaaay far down on his list). So I probably will need to take that chore on myself now.

Then, the rabbit. You hadn’t forgotten about the rabbit, had you? I certainly haven’t. In NH, Impera kept him in her room, which was on the same floor as everything else in that one-level place. Here, her room is in the attic, two floors away from most of the activity in the house. At first it was too hot in the attic for him, and then I was worried that this social creature was upstairs all alone, all day, every day. So he’s currently in the dining room. Our house doesn’t have a good place for him — the kitchen is too small, and we don’t have a “playroom” or mudroom type of place. So, Impera cleans his cage once a week (mostly under duress), and changes his litter halfway through the week as well (again, only if there’s nagging involved). But there is hay and clean litter strewn about the floor in the dining room. And his bag of pellets is just sitting out there on the floor. Oh, and he has a tendency to pee outside his litter box sometimes.

*sigh*

This is not how I expected to be dealing with pets right now. They are just getting on my nerves, and really, when the girls coo over the cat or the dog or the rabbit, and ask, “Isn’t xxx sweeeeet?” I don’t play along anymore. No, Loki isn’t fluffy, he whines and he stinks up my basement. No, Zephyr isn’t cute, she pees all over the house. No, Tamarind isn’t a beast — well, yes he is, but not in the way you mean it — he’s a neurotic outside-the-litterbox pee-er.

If anyone has some spare Pet Mojo hanging around, I sure could use some right about now.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 October 2008 3:37 pm

    I really can’t be doing with incontinent pets, so I completely sympathise. We had rabbits when the children were little, but when the last one died I said that never again would we have a pet that couldn’t follow you around, I just couldn’t be doing with a caged animal ever again. And I don’t mind an animal having an occasional accident if it’s ill or very young, but an incontinent pet that doesn’t seem to care is not acceptable behaviour.

    Can the pet store suggest a repellent that will make the floor under the stairs unusable for your cat? And I’m afraid that Zephyr needs retraining and that this will take some time and effort. Could you try feeding her in her crate? Dogs usually don’t care to mess where they feed (I’ve known dogs that do, but not many). And could she be feeling unsettled? She may need reassurance and affection, but with a clear message about her place in the pecking order; that is, you are in charge and you will care for her and pet her, but she follows your rules.

  2. Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
    5 October 2008 4:56 pm

    My problem, Z, is that for all that I don’t really need pets in my life, I feel terrible if I think that the animals in our care are not getting the attention they require (hence, the rabbit woes; he’s Impera’s, and other than nag her about keeping his cage clean, he isn’t my responsibility — she even pays for his feed and vet care).

    And the dog — well, the Consort is the official throw-up cleaner upper, and always has been. We have two more pieces of furniture than smell bad from the tenant days, and unfortunately, with the economy tanking, it seems irresponsibile to buy new furniture right now. Blah. Basenjis are very (very!) clean dogs — more cat-like than dog-like, so if she had an accident in her crate, then that’s because she just couldn’t hold it in any longer. Tomorrow the invisible fence guy is coming (huzzah!) so she should be able to spend more time outdoors and perhaps recall how to use the bushes.

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