Friday 30 Sep 2016

Animal Lover
Jennifer Flaten

We have three cats and one dog, but you wouldn’t know it most days. During weekends, holidays and vacations the animals stay clear of the common rooms. If they don’t, there is the possibility one or more the kids might scoop them up to participate in a reenactment of King Arthur’s Camelot. While our oldest cat makes an excellent Sir Lancelot, the dog is only passable as Maid Marian.

When the kids return to school or are just gone for more than five minutes the animals emerge from their secret lairs to take over the living room. One minute the couch is deserted, the next three furry pillows hog all the sofa cushions. I’ve taken to working in the kitchen, the only area of the house, not littered with snoring animals during the week.

They bask in the sunlight until the children come home, and then disappear, like smoke, until feeding time. I admit, sometimes they look so comfortable that I don’t run the vacuum for fear of waking them. Oh, hell who am I kidding I don’t vacuum because I am a lackadaisical housekeeper.

Don’t get me wrong, my house is clean enough, it’s just a little dusty around the edges at all times. I can’t help that there is always something more pressing to do instead of vacuuming, such as preventing the kids from blowing up the kitchen, finishing my novel, staring blankly into space.

Why I should hesitate to wake the animals, especially the cats, when clearly they show no compunction about waking me the minute their breakfast is two seconds late is a mystery.

There is nothing quite like the sensation of waking up short of breath, fearing you are suffering an attack of some sort to find your midnight black feline sitting on your chest staring intently at your forehead. This, of course, explains why I was dreaming of salmon.

Our oldest cat is the food ringleader; simply put he will not miss a meal. The cat doesn’t care about daylight savings time; the cat doesn’t care if you are sick with the flu. The cat is ready for breakfast.

Does the cat care if it’s only 5 am? No, because he is going to go back to sleep the minute he is done eating.

Our dog, on the other hand, is not as interested in food. A smaller mixed breed she replaces our Lab mixed breed that died a few years ago.

We’ve had to adjust to the newer, less food motivated dog. Imagine going from a dog with the amazing ability to arrive at the scene just as the steak drops from the plate to the floor, to a dog that can’t bother to get up to clean up the spilled bowl of spaghetti-os.

The new dog prefers to spend her precious waking hours sprawled across the back of the sofa guarding her empire. While we have a standard city lot, the dog believes her domain extends to the entire street. If someone even thinks about turning onto our street, she will sound the alarm. She has a wonderfully loud and deep bark; one would expect a hellhound attached to such a bark. She is a wonderful deterrent until people realize she is a mere two feet tall. I am sure if she hit you, just right in the shins she could cause considerable pain.

The last time the dog burst out of the house with the intention of attacking the UPS driver, the driver collapsed on the sidewalk in a fit, well it certainly wasn’t a fit of fear, more like a fit of laughter upon seeing my hellhound.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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