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Life with Pets | PetsWeekly

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We love our animals. We mostly tolerate humans. Out of about 7+ billion people on the planet (which, let’s face it, is WAY too many) - I enjoy the company of maybe, I don’t know, maybe 26 of them.

Eventually, though, we all have to interact with our own species. The holidays are coming up and we’ll have to socialize and attend parties and do human stuff. And let’s face it - humans aren’t so bad when they love animals as much as you do.

When we are feeling sociable enough to allow visitors, there are invariably things that we have to explain.

If you have animals, you probably already know about these things. But if you don't, here's what we will probably need to help you understand...

 

1. Why we have child safety gates everywhere, but no children.

We don’t have kids living at home, but we have child safety gates throughout our home. This always results in strange looks and questions, so let me alleviate any anxiety you may have about being surrounded by a network of steel:

  1. We have three dogs and two of them don’t get along as well as they should. We’re working on that. But in the meantime, we have to make sure that they don’t get too excited when visitors come by and decide to handle their stress by taking it out on each other.
  2. We have to limit access into rooms with litter boxes. This year, we're a step closer thanks to technology (see Feeding Individual Diets in Multi-pet Homes)
  3. Even we need an escape area when the dogs or cats feel like chasing us through our home (all in good fun).

You may also see cushion blockades on occasion. These are strategically designed forts built by our pets who like to drag cushions off furniture and design perfect areas for sleeping. (But also because cushion forts rock...)

 

2. Why you can’t leave drinks on the table or counter

Knocking things off counters is an Olympic sport in our home. (We even have a rating system for the best take-down by a cat). That’s why we emphasize that you should keep hold of your drinks at all times.

We think it’s annoying, too. But, the cats think it’s hilarious and an entertained cat is a happy cat.

3. Why we have tape over the doorbell and you’re not allowed to open the door

A ringing doorbell is the equivalent of firing a starter pistol in our home. It’s inevitable. Your chances of getting injured during a stampede are substantially reduced if you avoid areas with doors.

As for visitors arriving, we are always working on this problem with the dogs, which means you could be standing outside for up to five minutes. (Sorry, that’s an occupational hazard. Be patient - we’ll get to you.)

Don't open the door. While all of our animals are micro-chipped and wear ID tags (and most of them have GPS trackers), we still don’t want to take a chance on the cats using an open door opportunity to go outside. GPS doesn’t help when coyotes or cars are involved. So, if you ever visit, do not open the door without supervision

On that same note, never use the doorbell. That's why there is tape over it. Besides, we already know you're here...

4. Why you’re sitting on the floor.

We have furniture in the house, but it’s so beat up that we’re embarrassed to have anyone sit on it or even see it (hence the cushion forts).

Ironically, our cats have a $1,500 handmade cat tree made from dragon wood, an outdoor enclosure completely furnished with lodge-pole pine furniture, and automated litter boxes. Our dogs all have their own Tempurpedic beds and automated drinking fountains

Meanwhile, we’re sitting on beat up, ratty old couches and drinking city water. And most of the time, the dogs are sitting on our old raggedy couches with us. So, why we don't invest in new furniture is really a mystery.

I don’t know why this is the way it is. It just is...

 

5. Why Our Cats are Going Through Your Purse.

Another of our cats’ favorite pastimes is exploring visitors purses. They are especially fond of peppermint-flavored gum and mints (did you know that catnip is from the mint family?).

We try to stop the cats from going through purses, but mostly it is a futile effort. It’s easier just to put everything in  your room, keep the door closed, and hope no animals sneak into the guest room while you aren’t looking.

 

 

6. Why You’ll Never Use the Bathroom Alone

All of our animals have a problem with personal boundaries, so doors that are closed are just an invitation for them to figure out a way into the room. I don’t know why. But the second you close a door to take a bath, or use the restroom, you’ll inevitably see paws reaching under the door and flipping that little doorstop thingamajig - just like this:

Don’t let it get to you. It's best to just let them in, but we understand if you don't want to...

7. Why we Buy Benadryl in Bulk

 The closest we get to having a home resembling those you’d see in a Southern Living magazine is having a candy bowl near the front door. Sadly, it doesn't contain candy. Instead it's full of Benadryl.

We buy a lot of things in bulk. Benadryl is the most common purchase. Some of this is because we live in Arizona - the allergy capital of the world. But it’s also because we have two dogs that are particularly fond of eating bees they catch, and also because we are all allergic to animals, despite living with them (or because of it - I don’t know).

Also, Haboobs...Haboobs are GIANT dust storms. As you can see, they deposit loads of dust throughout the house and make it impossible to breathe. Benadryl can help eliminate SOME of the problems, but obviously it's best to just not visit during monsoon season... This is a picture of a small haboob entering our backyard. (Yes, I said small). The big ones are twice this size and ten times as ominous.

8. Why you can’t discipline (or reward) our pets

The only people allowed to discipline are animals is us. That means (in no particular order) that you are not allowed to:

  • Tell my cat to get off the table (ironically, this is also the reason why we're never asked to bring food to events, which works for us!).
  • Remove my cat from the table (they will bite you).
  • Tell my dogs to be quiet (they won't listen and you'll just annoy us).

You can, however: gently ward the dog from jumping on you with a hand out and a firm no. 

In short, we will handle the problems - you just worry about being a guest.

The same rules apply for rewarding our pets. Please do not feed our pets from the table or offer them treats. We have enough problems controlling their weight and in most cases, they eat better than we do.

9. Why you aren’t allowed to use certain words:

There are certain "trigger" words that set off a series of events that you don’t want to be a part of - I promise. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Treat
  • Hungry
  • Walk
  • Feeding
  • Dinner
  • Vet
  • Bacon
  • Ball
  • Outside
    • and the most dangerous of all phrases, “Who wants…”

They always want something. Always...

10. Why you have to sign an affidavit that your kids are under control

Okay, you don't really have to do that... Our dogs and cats tolerate kids pretty well. Some of our pets actually enjoy being around your little ones. But you must promise that your offspring must never chase our cats, grab our dogs, twist their ears, ride them, take food or give food and if I catch them being abusive towards any of my animals, you will be summarily removed from our home.

Also, fish tanks are not for fountains for kids to play in and, "No - they can’t feed the fish."

Besides, our fish tanks are notoriously unreliable.

Also, please don't put your hands in the bowl or tap on the tanks.

And just for the record, never try to keep a cat where he doesn’t want to be kept (aka - your lap) and in the event of a dispute, I will always defend my animals...

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stacymantle
Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.


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