Thursday, November 5, 2009


A couple weeks ago I went out into the yard to pull some dead flowers out of their pots. I actually don't mind dead flowers all that much and am usually not in a big hurry to pull them out and admit autumn's victory, but I had a few that had turned to mush, and I was sick of looking at their slimy, depressing leaves. So I yanked them out, happy to think about what might go in that nice clean dirt next spring. Little did I know, something was going to be planted in one particular pot way before pansies in March.

A couple days later, I stepped out on the back patio to let the dogs outside to do their morning business. As I looked to the left, something caught my eye. It looked like a squirrel had already started digging in the empty pot and left a couple peanuts. I wasn't surprised; we had a small army of peanut burying squirrels that frequented The Boyfriend's pots at the townhouse. I was surprised, however, that this particular squirrel did not even take the time to bury its stash. The peanuts were just lying at the bottom of a nice deep hole. As I went over to either bury them properly or toss them out (I hadn't decided yet), imagine my surprise and horrific, immature disgust when I realized those peanuts were poop--big, fat cat turds. My already tenuous relationship with the neighborhood cats just took a decisive turn for the worse.

Over the past couple years, I had thought a lot about living in a real house and the responsibilities and freedoms that come with it. I thought a lot about our pets--enjoying their own yard, playing fetch, pooping off a leash (hey, after 4 years of dog walking, this is no small thing!). However, I failed to realize that we would be at the mercy of other people's pets. My first realization of this oversight came with our ventures out into the backyard and the humane society-esque greeting that came with them. Dogs everywhere: one big one and so many little ones I'd rather not take the time to list them individually. Collectively, they would still be drop-kickable. I probably hear two barks a month from the big one. The little ones, however, have become the soundtrack of my life, especially now that I work from home. Not wanting to feel left out, another, I would say medium-sized dog, has joined in from a couple houses down, and it might be the worst offender of all. Some of the dogs have started getting used to their new neighbors; others seem destined for eternal feuding. One dog must have recently acquired a bark collar, because now each of its high-pitched, temple-bursting barks is followed promptly by a beep! It actually is kind of funny, and I've started to admire the little guy's tenacity. In any case, that was Other People's Pets Lesson #1.

The cats, however, have collectively been Lesson #2. I know there are at least three cats who frequent our yard. I have no clue where they live, but from the looks of them, they're clearly from all different walks of cat life. One worked its way into my heart early. It's a petite, short-haired black cat with just a few white markings. It mews incessantly if it happens to join you outside, but is annoying irresistible. The Boyfriend and I have been too nice to this little guy, and perhaps our "peanuts" are what we have to show for it. The other black cat, however, has been best described by The Boyfriend as looking like it was lit on fire then promptly dunked in cold water. It looks like a walking comic strip and I probably wouldn't touch it with one of those Animal Planet catch poles and rubber gloves on. After the recent flower pot surprise and our dogs' particular affinity for finding and ingesting the "peanuts" they find in the flower beds, now when we see the cats in the yard we let the dogs out to chase. Any of you who know Kira will know that the success of this approach is dependent upon Apollo. Kira will give chase, but I think she's chasing Apollo with the hope that Apollo is chasing a tennis ball. Kira has been known to roll over when approached by a cat, so she's surely not tapping into her killer instincts.

If anyone has any cat repellent ideas, we're obviously in need.

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