Hello my little intertribe!

Intertribe (n): the internet tribe of lovely talented fabulous people who read my blog.

I have a Very Special Treat for you today!  It’s not often that I have a guest blog post.  Actually, it’s pretty much never.  At least up until now it’s been never.  Because, you know, everyone I know already has their own blog.  You have one, don’t you?  You’d tell me about it if you did, right?  Because I want to read it!  I’m always looking for new fun blogs to read.  Hook a girl up!

Where was I?  Ah, yes.  MY VERY FIRST GUEST BLOG POST!

Now I wouldn’t have just *anyone* write  a blog post on my own very dear to my heart blog.  Oh no.  But this story was hilarious, and has a great message, and is TRUE.  It happened in my house while I was away doing work-type things in far off places, but I wish I could’ve been here to see it all go down.  So without further (verging on excessive, I know) ado, let me introduce my very own roomie, Louie, and his recounting  of this fine tale of inter-species partnership.

Author’s Note: YES I use capitol letters in some funny ways. Just imagine I am from the 1820’s.

A Man, a Cat, a Dog, a Rat.
Adventures in organic pest control.

“Lo in some cave long ago, there died a caveman who did not listen when his dog suggested they were all about to be eaten by a Giant Bear. We are NOT his descendants.”

It was Jessie that noticed first. She seemed sure that there was something interesting behind the china cabinet.

“hey!” says Jessie, “over here over here! something is interesting!” she said in fluent Dog. However, interesting for Jessie might be scraps – once stuffing – of some dearly departed stuffed toy. Plush Guts.

I glanced at the cats, especially Her Mu-Ness, Puffy the Slayer, the Murderous Muffin, Scourge and God of mice and voles and terror even unto the very squirrels.

Nothing. She said “Wuh, huh? Oh no, nothing about, not for days, the dog is daft.” Amazing what a cat can say with one open eye and a body loaded with cat comfort.

I saw nothing, the cats ears were not swiveling and the toy focused canine returned to her investigation of the underside of the china hutch.

“hey hey hey!” her eyes and face say.
Oh be still jessie be still.
*wiggle wiggle wag wag* “but but come see come see come see!”
hush, puppy.
*Yip* “I am Not Kidding”
oh alright, I’ll come look, remove the Object of Attention, peace will reign.

Except it wasn’t plush guts.

It was not a big rat as rats go, ordinary, not even old enough to have developed evil genius cunning. But a pretty professional rat just the same.

>Insert Classical symphonic scores here, Peter and the Wolf meets Night on Bald Mountain<

To get a better look I slid the china hutch a bit. The rat flipped me off and shot as though from rat-gun across the floor wall edge.

Lets clear the air a minute. I enjoyed The Secret of NIMH, Flushed Away and Ratatouille. But real rats (not the caged kind) are not cute, not funny, not “just trying to live their lives”. They do not live happily in Nature. They are devoted to eating what we have, living in our houses crapping and peeing on every thing they walk on or by. They have evolved to Live Off of Us. The bring us plague, Leptospira, Rat-Bite fever , Salmonellosis and several forms of Typhus. Fleas and intestinal parasites come with them as well. A pair of rats can produce enough offspring to fill your house in a mighty small spot of time. They are dangerous to your pets, your home and your self.  They will bite your baby and kill your chickens. Rat traps and rat poison are dangerous to use, and they have not yet come up with that better rat trap we all hear about.

>Sports announcer over the dramatic soundtrack<

“And Jessie moves to Intercept, she’s on it, No, Rat has backflipped to duck under the curtain edge. The Murderous Mu has exploded onto the field, and is in hot pursuit!”

>crowds cheer<

“Rat to the corner, pressure is on, Man to the left, Dog to the right, looks like.. NO! Rat has evaded behind the couch but that is not stopping our Miss Muffin Mu! Man and Dog are flanking the couch, Rat runs for it and slips past Jessie, narrowly missing the snap of teeth. Pressing from Jessie, troublesome shelving. Jessie looks like she wants the score for herself!”

“Yeah but Rat’s extreme maneuverability lets him scoot back to the couch, scuffling, fierce squeaking tell us that he has run into … The Power-Puff! But this Rat is not down! Spectacular Acro-Ratics – who thought that rats could fly! Rat Looks Rat-tled though, signs of intimate contact with the claws of Mu. Rat has found every spot the cats paw and dogs maw cannot reach.”

“The Man has gotten a Stick! The Man has gotten a Stick! Comments Jim?”

“Well the Man is clearly the underdog here, no offense Jessie, and a stick is a traditional tactic. He will probably use it to displace the opposition from those claw and snout proof positions. My guess is it may also be useful in the Terminal Moment. Rat is making a move! A bold attempt! Feint to the curtains, a mad dash for the china hutch! But man has beaten Rat to the Hutch and slides it out far enough for the Power team of Mu and Jessie to get right inside! the crowd (all 2 of them) is Going wild!”

“Jim, this classic grudge match was first fought about 5,000 BC. That was about the time Cats joined up. Till then, man and dog played against the rodent team without this specialized player.”

“Well times may have changed Bob, but these are tried and true plays, first developed in the early days of the game and OH Boy the break seems to be over! Looks like rat is fully cornered… MU moving up Jessie is on guard. Man and stick are closing in and..

Thats it! the 967 millionth Rat bowl is over!

>crowd of two cheering<

Our lives are covered with technology, much of it unseen and subtle, some of it overt and obvious. In spite of the recent invention of Laser mosquito killers, I feel we are far from replacing the exquisite intricacy and infinite flexibility of one of our oldest technologies, other species. In this advanced world, we would do well to remember that most of our problems are still best addressed with what millions and billions of years of biological adaptation can give us.

The three of us bonded during this adventure. When all was over and the offensive carcass removed, Miss Muffin Mu, Jessie the Bold and Your Author had the most satisfying mutual pet-rub-snuggle session. Man and Dog and Cat all in a happy pile of purring and wiggling and self congRATulations.

We humans did not get here alone. We had help. Man and Dog and Cat evolved together. In mutual support, we have come to a future where dog and cat can largely retire and enjoy being pets.
I am fine with that, they have paid their dues. Again.

Canine Sociology 101

So you all know that I love my dog.  I especially love watching her deal with new dogs, because it amazes me how she’s able to handle pretty much any dog that comes her way.  Case in point:

We’re at a dog park playing fetch.  Enter stage right: new dog, about her size, kinda brown/fawn colored, with owner.  Looks like a big jack russell with maybe some german shepherd thrown in for spice, and colored like a pit bull.  Jessie ignores new arrivals like she usually does for the most part, her motto is “See the ball, be the ball, ignore everything but the ball”.  She’s in the middle of running back with said ball when new arrivals reach the edge of the field, and owner removes leash from new dog.  Jessie arrives at my position, and after her usual 10-15 seconds of chomping on the ball to transfer the maximum amount of droooly happy dog slobber, drops it and prepares for the next volley.  New arrivals are pretty far away at one end of the field to the right, while we’re in the middle, so I launch the ball with my trusty super Chuckit across the field, in the same direction as new arrivals but to the left corner.  And now the fun starts.

New arrival takes off after Jessie like a rocket.  I’m not sure if it’s the ball or the running dog, but it’s making a beeline straight for her.  Jessie doesn’t notice until she reaches the ball, picks it up, and starts heading back.  She sees new arrival tearing for her and stops dead, ball in her mouth.  New arrival stops dead as well, about 15 feet away.  The eyeballing begins.

Jessie stands just looking at new arrival, occasionally chomping her ball.  New arrival stands looking at Jessie, with a kind of possibly aggressive/possibly playful but certainly jumpy stance.  Jessie’s stance seems pretty neutral.  After about 20 seconds of staring (no kidding!) Jessie makes a move to continue to bring the ball back slowly.  New arrival shoots forward, and Jessie stops dead again.  New arrival then walks over to her, and starts sniffing at the ball.  Jessie stays completely still, and after about 2 seconds drops her ball in order to lick at new arrival’s muzzle – a clear calming signal.  New arrival seems to relax a bit, and jessie takes a shot at a friendly butt-sniff.  New arrival is pretty jumpy still, and twitches.  Jessie just stands there, not looking at the dog, while it checks her out.  Apparently satisfied that she poses no threat, but understanding that there’s no interest in playing, new arrival trots off towards owner (who was not paying any attention to this whole exchange).  Jessie watches new arrival until he/she is obviously not interested in her anymore, goes back and picks up her ball (she almost never forgets her ball!), and proceeds to run back to me, slowly at first, but picking up speed. 

And that is how my dog deals with all dogs she’s unsure of.  It’s amazing how she completely smothers any aggressive interest any dog has ever exhibited towards her, without being a total “lay on her back and show her tummy” submissive dog.

Another thing I’ve learned about dog communication is that everything that a dog would do to say “Hey I wanna be friends, maybe you could chill out and then we can play huh?” are nearly exactly what a cat does to say “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!!”.  Which causes some fairly major communication breakdowns in my house, and generally makes my house pretty lively on occasion.

Aren’t pets great?

Jack’s Back! Well sorta.

I went to the vet today to pick up Jack.  Jack in a box…forever.  I’d been putting it off for quite a while (see date on prior post), and not just because I still have to pay the 170 bucks that I don’t have (and totally forgot about!  ouch) and I decided I was ready to deal with this next step.  And you know what…I feel better.  It was actually kinda nice.  I mean, he’s in a white cardboard box, taped shut, and I know he’s in a plastic bag inside that box, since Jasper went the same route a year ago, but…he’s back.  He’s back, kinda hanging around the house now (well, on my counter).  I have my Jack Pot all ready to go, and I just need to find a Jack Plant that likes ashy soil (any suggestions?).  He’ll have to stay Jack in the Box until I can find the Jack Plant (this is actually getting kinda fun!) to put in the Jack Pot, but he doesn’t mind.

He’s almost as well behaved as he was before he died!  Just not quite as affectionate.  But still..welcome back Jack!

(Please do not call the local mental services to pick me up.  I’ll be alright.  No really.)

For Jack.

On Monday, my best friend died.  He was my best boy, my good sweet boy, and I miss him terribly.  No other friend, four footed or two, was as gentle, loving, or giving as he was, and everyone he met smiled just a bit more after spending time with him.  In honor of him, I offer these remembrances of his life.

I remember the first day we met.  You were the last kitten at the Alley Kat pet store at Jantzen Beach.  I watched you playing in the little display, just having a grand ole time all by yourself.  I handed over my 70 bucks to buy you.  They were out of pet carriers, so they put you in an empty cricket box, and you meowed the whole way out to the car.  Once we were in the car, I let you out because your crying was breaking my heart, it was so pathetic.  You proceeded to climb up to my left shoulder, and there is where you stayed whenever we drove anywhere, until you were too big to fit.  I wanted a unique, exotic name for you, but every time I tried to think of one, the name “Jack” would pop into my head.  “Jack?  Nah that’s too boring” I kept thinking, but no other name would come.  So Jack is what I named you.  It was the perfect name for you.

I remember you and Sam working together to raid the cat treats, which I kept in a closet 6 feet off the ground.  Now that was absolutely amazing.  I’m glad I could catch you in the act.

I remember you being a master at catching flying things.  Bugs, birds, it didn’t matter.  Your first effort, however, was a fly…and you missed.  I’m glad I got pictures of that.

I remember you hopping sideways like a little halloween cat, all bristling tail and arched back, when we would play.

I remember you climbing in between the blanket and the sheet while I was sleeping, and then pounce on my feet with your sharp little kitten claws..ouch!!

I remember you introducing me to all my neighbors, whether or not I wanted to, by inviting yourself into their houses.  I loved that about you.

I remember you patiently letting Tori pounce on your tail repeatedly while you where sleeping, and the only thing you did when you had enough is just stalk away somewhere where she wouldn’t see you.  You were the gentlest big brother I’ve ever seen.  You were gentle with all the little ones. 

I remember I could pick you up and drop you into anyone’s arms, and you’d give them a big purr, a head butt and a kiss on the nose (sometimes).  But you always had one for me. 

I remember you making the vet’s office your own, along with the hearts of everyone who worked there.

I remember you sleeping in the grass near that old barn, and all the barn swallows whose nest I caught you raiding were dive bombing your head to drive you away, and you slept right through it.

I remember the catnip play fighting you and Sam always had.  And you always won.

I remember taking you for walks around NW Portland.  With no leash.  You would just follow me whereever I went, and if you strayed behind I would just call you and you’d come running.

And lots of times you’d follow me when I didn’t want you to, like the time I was having lunch at the restaurant down the street from my house, and you nearly got hit by a car trying to cross the street when you saw me.  Everyone who was eating lunch outside at that restaurant yelled out when you stepped off the curb, it was that close.

I remember I would put a little black bowtie around your neck at parties, and you’d happily greet everyone as they came in.

I remember how you would always be there for me.  No matter what.  Ever.  You were always ready to snuggle and kiss my nose, even for 5 minutes.  Or 5 hours.  Even if you’d just finished eating.

I remember letting a 2 year old carry you around.  And you let her.  You didn’t have to.

I wish I could remember more.  I wish I could’ve taken better care of you.  I’m so sorry.  I hope you forgive me.  If anyone deserves to be in a better place now, it’s you.  You will always be in my heart.  I miss you, Jack, and I will always.