Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mild mannered columnist achieves 'peace in our home'

Hump Day
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Editorial Page

It's funny how territorial we get where our own home is considered. Personally, I'm quite protective of my house. It even drives me crazy when someone turns around in my driveway, which is silly since I do that often enough in others' driveways, too!

When I'm an old man, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the cranky kind. I'll be screaming, 'Get off my lawn!' to every bird, squirrel and human who touches a blade of grass on the uneven, patchy mess I call a front yard.

It also bothers me when people interrupt my day by banging on my door and asking me if I could take a few minutes to talk about God -- or sell me cookies, or whatever.

"Oh I'll talk to you about God, all right. Dear Lord, please have mercy on the two unlucky missionaries who just knocked on my door in the middle of me updating my Facebook status for the 472nd time today. Please keep them safe as I chase them down the street while waving a butcher knife and screaming profanities so filthy that they would make an Ethiopian pirate curl up in the corner in the fetal position, suck his thumb and cry for his mommy."

This past weekend, I went to the airport to see my friend Bob off as he headed back out west after a couple of weeks home. He was taking his dog Riley with him, so he had suitcases and a kennel to place on the plane. His flight ended up being delayed and because of Riley, he decided to fly back to Calgary the next day instead, in order to make it back without a layover in a hotel.

I offered Bob a place to crash for the night along with Riley. He kindly accepted, but there was only one complication: my very territorial cats. They'd already banished an intruder from their midst a couple of years ago when -- to my utter insanity -- I got a third cat.

By the time they terrorized the poor thing half to death and I found her another home, they'd made it pretty clear to me that they were quite happy and content being just the two of them. On their own, they were friendly, loving pets. Adding a third to the mix turned them into feline serial killers.

Bob arrived at my house with Riley, who is an extremely good-natured dog. He wouldn't hurt a flea. In fact, he'd try to play with the flea. He loves everything and everyone -- and doesn't have a mean bone in his body.

Little kids can climb all over him and he will sit there patiently and take it. Really, he's an exceptionally friendly dog.

When Riley entered the house, he first saw Casey, my male cat who's very affectionate. On his own, I knew Casey would adjust in a couple of hours and try to be friends with Riley. Upon first seeing Riley, Casey put his back up in the air and his fur stood straight up like something out of a stereotypical Halloween cat icon.

My female cat, Cindy, finally entered the kitchen and did the same thing, so I had two cats with their backs arched and fur on end staring at the canine intruder who, in reality, just wanted to be friends. Unfortunately, he was encroaching on their territory and, for now, neither would have anything to do with it.

The cats eventually went to the end of the hallway to watch us from there as we sat in the living room. Casey had his head poking out from behind a doorway staring at the strange furry dude in the house (Riley, not Bob) while Cindy -- the much more territorial and bossy cat -- did the same from another doorway. While Casey was simply sizing up the situation and likely figuring a 'let's be friends' strategy (which Riley was, too), Cindy was most certainly plotting Riley's death.

Cindy can't stand any threat in the house. She hides and sulks when people visit, but eventually comes out, rubbing her head on every single piece of furniture to put her scent on it and make sure the visitor knows that she owns everything. (I may have bought it, but it's her property -- at least in her own furry little brain.)

Casey eventually ventured out into the living room to hang out from afar and check out Riley. I'm pretty sure Cindy sent him in as a spy. Only when Casey survived the dangerous sortie mission did Cindy then decide to investigate the scene herself.

Not being overly familiar with cats, Bob thought that Cindy's tail wagging was a sign of happiness. I had to break it to him that when cats wag their tales, happiness is the last thing on their minds. It actually means they're extremely annoyed or downright angry.

To make a long story short, as Riley went out to explore the house a bit more and Cindy kept track of his whereabouts until they accidentally ran into each other around a corner.

It was not a pretty sight as Cindy decided to show Riley who was boss and started screaming and swatting at him.

He barked in shock and ran.

Basically, Cindy had just told Riley to 'get off my lawn!'

Eventually, I sequestered Cindy in another room for an hour to see how Casey would make out with Riley without Little Miss Hissy Fit hanging around upsetting everything.

As I thought would happen, Casey was quite happy with Riley and actually nearly touched noses with him at one point. But despite this apparent peace treaty, Bob decided to sleep elsewhere.

Let's just hope that Cindy never buys a Welcome Wagon franchise!

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