Animal Planet

As I was cleaning the backyard of the preponderance of poop the other day I started cursing the dog and the lawn missiles left throughout the winter months. It’s during those times I wonder why on earth I have a pet. But then Mocha the wonderdog does something crazy and I laugh my head off and then I know why.

I like pets. I like people who like animals. I am not a crazy cat lady (despite my threats to become one if I don’t get some male companionship..) nor a crazy dog lady.. but I do like having pets. I AM more of a dog person as I like the unconditional love (seeing as I’m not getting it anywhere else…LOL) but I like cats too. This in and of itself is a little strange because I am allergic to both to a certain extent. Not horribly so.. but I can’t have them sleeping too close to my head. I woke up the other morning with puffy eyes as Mocha the Wonder Dog had practically been sleeping on my pillow.

I’ve had many pets.. my first were fish.. various goldfish purchased at Towers .. “starter pets” I like to call them. We had 3 goldfish – Betty, Veronica and Hot Dog. They didn’t last long.. Over the years I inherited several goldfish from people who won them at carnivals and didn’t want them, including Captain Highliner, Birk & Kirby and a bunch whose names I don’t remember. When you get the carnival fish, they are supposed to croak quickly.. every time I got one, they lasted YEARS.. several years as a matter of fact. And I sucked at cleaning the fishbowl.. until invariably my mother would post a sign on it along the lines of “CONDEMNED” or “CLEAN THIS OR YOU WILL BE GROUNDED INDEFINITELY” or some such thing.. and how come then you could have a goldfish in a bowl forever and NOW you have to have some giant tank and $400 in accessories in order for it to live a week?

But I digress… I was about.. 9 I guess and the first REAL pet (i.e. one you can PET) was a cat that we named Tigger (wasn’t everyone’s first cat?) that we got free from someone in the neighbourhood.. One of those “if we can’t find homes for these animals they will all DIE!!!” kind of deals… We wrongfully thought that Tigger was a boy.. so it came as a bit of a shock to discover that she was going to have kittens. We set up a “bed” for her in the basement (i.e. box with a blanket) so of course she decided to have the kittens in my mother’s closet. There were five – One Eyed Jack, Salt, Pepper, Morris and Tigerstripe. My parents let us keep one of them.. and the rest we took to a pet store.

It was fun having 2 cats .. at least if you were a kid… One time my mother left a turkey on the counter after Easter dinner and came back mere SECONDS later to find the cats on the counter eating it.. It ALL went in the garbage.. I can also remember tasting cat food (Puss n Boots I’m pretty sure..) just because. Yeah, it doesn’t taste anything like tuna.

Mysteriously, Tigger ran away after a year or so and we were quite upset. That was right around the time we discover that TigerSTRIPE was actually TigerLILY … and not too long after that we discovered that she too was going to have kittens and my parents decided that it would be best if she went to live on my dad’s friend’s farm. Please note that it was many many years later (I was in my 20’s) when I discovered from my parents nosy neighbour that no, these cats did not go to live on happy farm land, but they had been taken to the SPCA by my father. One of them actually DID run away when my dad tried to get her out of the car, but the other was taken into the pound. 😦

Therefore, it all makes sense now… why my parents finally caved when I was in grade 6 and bought me a dog. Well, he was for my sisters too, but whatever… He was a poodle (I wanted a schnauzer).. and he was black with a white face and paws (called a phantom poodle.. who knew?) and his name was Jocko.

Here’s something you have to know about me and my family… we suck at animal training. Hell, I can’t get ME to repeat behaviour regularly (i.e. gym) so how do you expect me to get an animal to do it?? Jocko was a great guard dog .. he scared the crap of the doberman across the street.. he jumped on people when they came in the house… he also could climb a fence. In the winter, he figured out how to climb snowpiles and the frost fence to get out of the yard. He was a pretty smart dog who obviously we did not help reach his full potential. He lived a long time.. he was about 16 when we had to have him put down.. got him in grade 6 and I was married with a 1 year old by the time he had to go.

When I was 19 I lived away from home and decided to get a cat .. plus, my friend found a notice on the bulletin board in her building saying that if this person couldn’t find a good home for this cat, it would be put down (see a theme here? I am apparently a one person animal rescue). He was completely black and I named him Mephistopheles. Yes, I realize that Mephistopheles is another name that is sometimes used for the devil… however, I got it from the Police song “Wrapped Around Your Finger”… it was not indicative of any devil worship. My mother refused to call the cat by this name and took to calling him “Francis”.. however, since he was black, he was a “spooky Hallowe’en cat” and eventually became “Spooky”.

Spooky was a very smart cat. When I moved to Kitchener, he came with me to my new home. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, and we’d leave the back window open a bit so he could come and go when he wanted. When we would get home we’d whistle for him outside and he’d come running into the house. One weekend we were away.. and when we got back he didn’t come back.

He was gone for about a week and we figured something truly bad happened. But then one day a neighbour came to the door to ask if we had a black cat and one was in the yard… Spooky had been locked in the basement next door for a week (it was an apartment building).. he was limping and seemed to have hurt himself (we figured he fell down an old coal chute).. and had lost a lot of weight, but he was fine otherwise.

Spooky was around for a long time.. 15 years.. he was a really good cat. He eventually got really sick and one of the saddest days ever was when I had to have him put down.

Several months later the kids and I decided to get a dog.. we found one in the paper.. $35 for a Border Collie. The kids had a PD Day in November and we drove out to Listowel and got a dog from a pig farm. His name was Bill… but we renamed him Barley. We put him in the van.. he had never been in a vehicle before. The kids won him over with a lot of dog cookies… and we headed straight for Pet Smart to get him groomed .. he’d been living on a pig farm and STUNK. Then the dog cookies kicked in on the drive…. and Barley proceeded to puke and crap all over the van. WHY did I get a dog??????

Barley is a beautiful dog who is extremely smart. He’s a herding dog.. so when the kids would toboggan, he would throw himself in front of the sled to make sure they weren’t getting away.
Barley is a pig in a dog suit.. he’ll eat anything. He’ll get into the trash… he would eat other animals food. He looks like an imposing dog, but he is a really big suck. Barley is the daughter’s dog… she is his favourite and he likes to sleep near her. He gets sad when she’s not with him in Waterloo.

When I got my own place, I was on my own for a while and the kids were only there part time.. so I started thinking about getting a smallish dog to keep me company and told a couple of friends I was thinking about it. Sooooooooo of course, one day I get a call… I HAVE to take this dog because the lady who owns her is going to have her put down… one person animal rescue yet again. I told the son about the dog and he INSISTED we go right away and see this dog. We got to the house in Cambridge and this dog was INSANE. She would not stop barking and she was not super friendly. And of course, Josh loved her.. and she loved Josh. So we took her home.

Her name was Peanut.. but we renamed her Mocha (Jodi suggested something about her colour and it was based on a Mocha Frappucino… ) Mocha is half Wheaton Terrier and half poodle.. and all crazy. Before we got her, the people who had her BEFORE the lady we got her from (following that?) was abusive to her (the guy was). So she is not friendly to men… at all. However, once she likes you, she LOVES you.. and is very affectionate and friendly.

Mocha is a great guard dog… she regularly barks at anyone even REMOTELY near the house. I know I’m safe with her here… especially from the mailman and delivery people. She scared off some people the other day who were trying to convert me to something…
She has developed the habit of being a bit of a princess… my own fault.. She likes her food with a little chicken broth on it or a raw egg…. she rarely will eat it simply dry. (Which suits Barley just fine when they are together because then he tries to eat it).
She LOVES vegetables.. she loves broccoli and cauliflower. When she’s happy to see you she climbs up in your lap and makes you pet her incessantly. She likes to sleep on my bed .. and is a bit of a bed hog. When she’s happy to see you, she’s the funniest thing ever and whines like crazy. It’s pretty funny to watch.

So despite the poop, and the crazy barking… I love my dog. AND she keeps away people trying to give me religious literature on Saturday mornings…

Life: Nothing to report right now… still looking for a gig.. house still for sale..
Love: I love my dog. and I love cats too…
Pants: My dog does not wear pants. Or other crazy clothes.

One response to “Animal Planet

  1. Try contacting your local Dog Listener who you can find via Jan Fennell’s UK website. They teach a non confrontational, non-violent and gadget free method which allows your dog to eliminate all undesirable behaviour of it’s own free will!

    Because the dog makes the choice, the changes are longer lasting, as long as you keep practising the method. It also allows your pet’s natural character to shine through as the method relieves them of stress. So they relax, become more playful, and definitely better behaved.

    Even if you just buy the DVD (available at reduced prices on Amazon of course), you’ll be making a move towards owning a happier, more relaxed dog who doesn’t display the behaviour which frustrates and stresses you.

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