Category Archives: animals

New Roommate

So back in September, I decided I’d had enough of living alone and decided to share my space with someone else.  She’s pretty quiet, likes some of the same TV shows I do, and never gets in the way when I have friends over.  On the other hand, she completely refuses to clean up after herself, doesn’t do any of the cooking, runs in circles around the apartment when I’m trying to relax, and doesn’t understand the boundaries of a closed door.

Introducing Little Bit.  This picture is actually one that was sent to me by my sister this past summer, when we were trying to find someone to adopt her.

Little Bit, her mom, and her brothers were strays that lived in my sister and brother-in-law’s garage.  When she and her brothers (Oscar and Tuffet) were born in 2010, my sister continuously sent me pictures of them captioned like this:

Pwease wuv us 😦

Because my sister is a cruel, cruel woman and likes to torture me with pictures of homeless kittens.  Unfortunately, my life and work schedule would not accommodate a kitten.  I worked over an hour from home and also worked a second job a couple nights a week, so I’d often be gone for 20 hours at time.  A kitten needs more attention than that.  No one adopted them, so they grew up in the garage.  Then in 2011, my sister moved out of the state, so we had to find homes for the cats and new kittens.  Oh yeah, because mom (Little Black Kitty, or LBK) and Little Bit had each had a litter.  We’re pretty sure Oscar was the father of both litters…. It was all very Flowers in the Attic in that garage, apparently.  Gross.  Big Sister sent me that first picture above and said it was too bad that I couldn’t take a cat, because she really thought Little Bit was the cat for me.  My sister is a master manipulator, obviously, because I took a look at that little face and decided she should come live with me.  I found a coworker to adopt her kitten, and brought both cats home with me (until we could be sure the kitten was weaned).

Little Bit, so named by my sister because she was so little bitty, was not at all sure about the apartment.  I kept her in the bathroom while I was away from the apartment or asleep for the first couple of days, until I could be sure she was box trained (She already was.  Because she is awesome).  But I’d open the bathroom door so she could come out while I was home and awake.  The first time I did this, we spent at least an hour like this

There was SO MUCH NOISE in my apartment for the poor scared kitty.  And after just a week, I took her to the Anti-Cruelty Society to have her spayed (where I found out how rare it is to have a totally black cat with no white on her anywhere.  She’s so special).

Wherein Little Bit makes me feel like a complete asshole for leaving her at the vet, because now all she wants is to lay by me and be petted and knead her paws 😦

When she finally did come out, she went directly under the couch.  And she stayed there pretty much until I quit my job in November (oh right.  BTW, I quit my full-time job without another full-time job lined up in mid-November.  More on that another time).  After I quit my job and was home nearly every day, she started to warm up to me.  She’d come out and play with her toys…

She’d play with things that were not toys too… one of her favorite games to this day is flipping her little pieces of kibble out of the bowl and tossing them under the rug.  She then proceeds to dive under the rug, mighty huntress that she is, to track down those sneaky kibble bits.

Around Christmastime, after I’d been home nearly every day for over a month, she started coming up on the couch and laying just out of reach.  Then she discovered the fleece blanket on my legs, and she’d lay just so she was touching that.  After a week of that, I got this

That poor Little Bit.  She’s so stressed out.

Now it takes her about 2.7 seconds to hop up on my legs once I stretch out on the couch.  She has lain on my lap while I was sitting up exactly once, during a snowstorm when the apartment was extremely cold.  I did some consulting work last week that required me to be on a conference call in the kitchen for about 6 hours a day for two days, and she tolerated it until the last hour each day… she’d come running into the kitchen, mew (which she very rarely does), and run back in to the front room.  As soon as I gave in to her demands, sit down on the couch, with the space heater blowing on us, she’d hop up next to me, stretch out so her nose was in the warm air stream, and hug my leg.  And she’d stay like that for hours if I let her.

I held out for a long time, getting a cat.  I didn’t want more responsibility than my houseplants required.  However, this little kitty adores me like nobody else.  She thinks we’re litter mates, always lays so she’s touching me, chews on my hand when she’s sleepy, tries to trip me in the morning if I’m ignoring her, and will softly pat me on the leg if I’ve gotten distracted and stopped petting her when we’re sitting on the couch.  She likes to watch the X-Files and Dr. Who with me, and tolerates The Bachelor, and would all the potato chips if I let her eat people food.

Welcome to the apartment, Little Bit.  You still won’t do the dishes or bring me a beer, but you have added more to this little home than I thought was possible.

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On the Lam

When I was seven years old, I made my First Communion.  It was very good day, despite the fact that we walked into the church in order of height and I was made to go first even though I was not the shortest one in my class – my friend Jerry was quite obviously shorter than me.  But I made it through the indignity of my perceived status as “smallest”, made it through wearing incredibly itchy tights (there are multiple pictures of me standing around the altar with the other kids, and I’m scratching one leg with my foot), made it through being forced to give my younger brother a kiss in thanks for flowers he gave me…

After church, the whole family headed back to our place for the party… and I got a bunch of gifts: the usual rosary, bible, and other religious-themed things appropriate for one’s First Communion.  Being a huge fan of sheep, there were also some sheep dolls in there as well (which are also totally religious, if you happen to be Christian).  Finally, there was a card from my parents that said that I would shortly be receiving two live sheep of my very own!!!!!amillion!!

SO EXCITING!  Big Brother had his pigs, Big Sister had her chickens.  And now I was totally one of the big kids with animals of my very own to care for!  I couldn’t wait.

The day my sheep arrived, I did what any newly pious 7-year-old Catholic girl would do: I named them after Greek mythological characters.  Io and Persephone.  What can I say?  I was kind of a weird kid.

I took care of those sheep every day, so pleased to be trusted with this great responsibility.  One day, while we were sitting at the dining room table doing homeschool, my mom looked out the window to see Grandma’s giant dog tearing off behind the barn.

“Mairin, did you leave the gate open?”
“What?  No!  I shut it, I know I did…. I’m pretty sure I did… I think it was shut all the way…”

Mom, T (big sister), J (big brother), and I ran out the door, past the open gate (SHIT!), and behind the barn to see what Buddy was chasing.  And what Buddy was chasing…. was sheep.

Double shit.

Now, if the sheep had simply gotten out and started wandering by themselves, we might’ve been able to corner and capture them.  But by this point, they’ve been chased around by this guy:

Buddy and I are about four years younger here than we were for the Great Sheep Chase, but still... big ol' dog.

And they are thoroughly freaked out.  They took off in opposite directions: Io toward the road and beyond with Mom and 13-year-old T giving chase, and Persephone into the tangled mess of our wooded, brambled property while 11-year-old J and I (age 8 by then) tried to keep up.

J and I had absolutely no chance of catching Persephone.  All we tried to do is stay close behind her as she made her way through the brush until Mom and T could catch up to us.

Speaking of Mom and T, they were chasing Io across a neighboring field, down the highway, with cars stopping to watch and truckers singing Mary Had a Little Lamb and Baa Baa Black Sheep out their windows.

They saw the terrified sheep run into our neighbor’s barn and breathed a sigh of relief: she was cornered. 

They were sure to catch her now; they followed her into the barn and saw her… on a rug by a couch and a TV.  Because the neighbors rented the barn out and someone was living there. 

Poor Io did what all scared, cornered animals do… she peed.  All over the rug.  And then the renter walked in, demanding to know what Mom and T were doing in his home.  And then he saw the sheep.  Peeing in his living room.

While he sputtered out his confusion (and I’m sure disgust), Mom apologized, gathered up woolly boolly Io in her arms and walked out the door.  Then she walked almost a mile home, carrying my sheep, while truckers sang nursery rhymes along the highway.   (correction, thanks to my mom)  My mom did what any reasonable person would do: asked the neighbor to sit on the sheep until she could go get the truck and load it up to bring home.  My mother really, REALLY loves me (although I’m pretty sure she wasn’t feeling it just then).

Mom and T locked Io in her stall and came to find me and J.  I was sent back briefly in an attempt to calm Io, who was freaking out and all but running up the walls of the barn.  However, it was quickly noted that we needed 4 people to corner poor, exhausted, terrified Persephone and I was summoned once again.

If I remember correctly (it was the end of summer and very hot that day, it’s possible I’m entirely wrong), Persephone didn’t actually get that far.  J and I managed to get her to go around in circles instead of a straight line out across the cornfields and it didn’t take that long for Mom and T to find us.

It finally came to an end hours after Buddy ran behind the bard, in the middle of a massive stand of what we would later realize was poison ivy.  We had a pie tin, filled with water from our creek, that we slid in toward Persephone.  I was talking to her to try to keep her calm and drinking while Mom snuck up behind her and wrapped her arms around her.  And then carried the limp, exhausted sheep almost a mile through the brambles and bushes to put her in the stall with Io. 

Poor Mom had not had allergic reactions to poison ivy prior to that day.  But it turns out, when you’re sweating a lot, it opens up your pores and all the poison can really get into your skin.  She had it over most of her body for days afterwards, and actually got really sick from it.  Have I mentioned lately how much I really, REALLY love my mom?  She’s really the best mom ever.

Mom recovered, Io and Persephone recovered, and I never accidentally left the barn gate open again.  I did however, once leave the door to the stall where we kept the feed open.  Someday I’ll tell you how my mom and dad stayed up all night burping the sheep after they got into the malted grain.