Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Guess I'm Just Extremely Shallow and Materialistic

I started this blog post yesterday with this title. I had photos of my favorite stuff in my house and everything. I didn't finish it because I felt bad about being so shallow and protective of my stuff.

It started first thing yesterday morning. I found a dried pee spot where Buster (Crack Dog) had lifted his leg against the trimmed wall between the dining room and kitchen. Later, while I was working in the office, I heard him snorting in the living room and found him running wildly back and forth, side to side on the couch.

Later that afternoon, while getting ready to go run some errands, I caught Dusty the cat in the den using one of a pair of black leather chairs as a scratching post. I lost it. I started crying and almost hyperventilating. I discovered later that this wasn't the first time. I found several spots with puncture holes over the back, arms and side of the same chair.

Last evening I downed two martinis.

I woke up at 2:00am this morning completely stressed out, worried that Dusty would do more damage to the chair and possibly the other one, so I went looking for the quilt Tom used for his trip to Arizona and some other large things to cover the chairs. When I walked through the den toward the garage, Dusty was sitting on the back of Tom's reading chair. I didn't turn on the light but when she saw me, she jumped down and ran back into Karen's bedroom.

When I couldn't find the quilt, I woke Tom up. He found the quilt, and we used two fully unzipped sleeping bags plus a couple heavy lap blankets to cover the leather chairs, but when I turned on the light and went to cover the leather storage ottoman, I also discovered dog poop and pee on the carpet next to it. And when I went to the kitchen to get paper towel, cleaner and rags, I stepped, barefoot of course, in more dog pee where Buster (Crack Dog) had lifted his leg to one of the kitchen island chairs.

So let's back up to yesterday after the cat scratching incident. That was pretty much my final straw. I left the house, taking Joe with me, and when I got to the intersection where I have to turn left to go to the store, I turned right instead towards Tom's shop. I was so happy that he was there.

He held me for a long time while I cried, then calmed down so I could tell him what had happened. We agreed that we had to talk to Karen about what to do with her animals.

Karen completely understood. Her decision was a very difficult one, particularly because the only no-kill shelter is full, they don't have any foster families available and the only alternative is the city-owned shelter. We suggested, rather than giving up Dusty the cat, she might want to consider keeping her but having her declawed. She emphatically declined.

At first, Karen decided to give both of them up, but when I came back from my errands and Tom came home from work, we posed the possibility of declawing her cat again.

I know how some people feel about declawing cats. I don't have that same aversion. I've had a vet declaw every cat I've ever owned. It doesn't change their behavior. My vet provides post-surgery pain medication and after the surgery heals, the cat is no longer in any pain. If a house cat gets outside and is presented with a threatening situation, it can still defend itself if the back claws are left intact. They can even climb trees. My cats did it all the time. They could also hunt and bring their 'prizes' home.

Why did I have my cats declawed? Because I'm shallow. I care about my stuff, my furniture, my house. I've invested a significant portion of our income and energy in our personal creature comforts to make them reflect our style and personal taste and create a comfortable, relaxing environment. I think everyone does that.

But here's the thing with Karen and Dusty the cat. Dusty is a domesticated feral and the only person she trusts is Karen. During the six months Karen lived with us two years ago, I could count on one hand the number of times I caught a glimpse of Dusty. If Dusty were to go to the shelter, she would not be adoptable. But Karen derives a great deal of comfort from Dusty and she is going to need that comfort in the coming months as she tries to get well and I don't want my furniture ruined in the process. The alternative is declawing. Karen ultimately agreed. Dusty goes into the vet next Tuesday.

Buster (Crack Dog) is another issue. As I wrote the other day, Karen does not have the energy to train or time to spend with him. Neither do Tom and I. As the alpha dog competition increases between Buster (Crack Dog) and Joe, so does the uncontrollable behavior...peeing, pooping, growling, snapping, running on furniture. When he is not doing all those things, he's a likable dog. He needs a family who has the time and patience to give him the undivided attention he needs to walk him and play with him and to wear him out so he can calm down.

As I write this, Buster (Crack Dog) is on his way to the shelter and Dusty the cat is in bed with Karen comforting her through the loss of her dog.

My den furniture is covered with quilts and other assorted padded bedding until Tuesday. I am perusing the internet for ways to correctly repair puncture holes in leather. At the same time, I'm feeling guilty for being so shallow and materialistic. Today I wish I didn't care so much about my stuff...but I still do.

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