I worry that my dog secretly hates me–not that he’s mistreated in any way. Kirby is spoiled rotten. I think he’s tired of the baby talk, and I think he objects that when he’s doing the poopy dance and about to “drop a blog,” I like to say [in my best baseball announcer voice], “Here’s the wind-up! And the pitch! It’s goooood…”
That would wear thin after eight years, don’t you think? Not for me, of course, but for him. I do it in public, after all.
I also talk to him on our walks:
After he’s scratched some grass over a #2 and starts to walk off before I’ve even gotten my hand in the poop bag, “Hold on there Sparky! I have to pick up after you! How would you like it if I tried to rush you while you were picking up after me?”
When he stops to sniff another dog’s poop: “That’s not yours. If it isn’t yours, we don’t care.”
When the guy who always yells at me for not picking up Kirby’s poop while I’m in the act of picking up Kirby’s poop: “I know I taught you that it’s wrong to bite people, but if you want to bite this ass-hat, I will look the other way. Just don’t make a habit of it.”
Then there are Kirby’s [literal] pet names. Kirby is short for Cerberus [because, in the Greek, the C is a hard sound]. His full name is Cerberus von Piddleshoes. I would hate me for that alone, but then there are the others: Shmoopy, Shmoop-a-loopagus, Señor Poopy Head, Puppy Butt, Goofus…it goes on with myriad mix-and-match variations.
The cats come with their own set of worries.
When they do that quintessential cat thing–you know, the thing where you’re skritching the belly, and they decide to gnaw on and further decimate your hand with their back claws? Then they get all contrite and start giving you licky kisses? I worry that it’s really a plot to see if I’m ripe; the kitty equivalent of thumping a melon. At best, they want to see how I’m maintaining my flavor with age so that when I die, they will enjoy eating my face and not just suffer through the process out of necessity.
I also worry that Bubo, the black cat [short for “bubonic black lump” and not a reference to the mechanical owl in the original Clash of the Titans], likes to hang out in the dark at the top of the stairs, not because she’s a cat with excellent night vision, but because I am a human with shitty night vision, and she would like to speed up the process of my death by making me trip as I saunter blindly downstairs in search of my first cup of coffee. Maybe she thinks she’s in the will.
Giallo [the ginger one] on the other hand, prefers to pounce upon me in bed while I’m asleep/half asleep and bat me in the face for attention. Meow, pet me! Feed me! Have a coronary that will pass for extreme night terrors when the po-po arrive.
The cats are also subject to their own barrage of pet names and baby talk. That should go without saying, but I just said it. Honestly, how much is a domesticated animal expected to take?
I think I’m right to worry.
But, I know what you’re thinking: John, what with the current political situation in America, the trend toward outright authoritarianism here and around the world, looming climatic catastrophe, and a global economy that is sketchy at best–don’t you have better things to worry about?
Yes, absolutely I do. And I do, you betcha. [Thanks for the reminder, by the way. I’ll be thinking of you tonight as I [DON’T] drift off to sleep.]
But a lot of those other worries are out of my control. Aside from the occasional strongly worded email or phone call to my representatives in Congress or showing up at a relevant march, there isn’t a lot I can do to control the state of the world. I can worry about what my animals think of me and actually try to do something about it. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to open cans of organic, dolphin-safe tuna and to bake home-made peanut butter/bacon/banana puppy cookies in an August-hot kitchen. Catch you later.