Wednesday, April 27, 2011

strategic planning work involved for feline friends


     Our cat, Dickens, made his annual pilgrimage to the vet’s office. For a peanut weighing in at 12 pounds, he rules the roost at our house I’m ashamed to admit. He makes two grown adults beckon at his every command. These are the same two people mind you who disciplined hundreds of kids at school successfully for years, raised a child and engaged with numerous other nieces, nephews and assorted pets.
     Being an independent guy who comes and goes as he pleases through his special cat door, it is a major strategic lesson preparing to get Dickens crated the morning of the ride down the hill. You’d think we were preparing a military exercise for combat battle.
    The night before my husband gets the cat crate into the guest bathroom and hidden in the shower. The rationale is that it will be easier to contain Dickens in a small room, and less chance for him to play the escape artist living up to his name. We are also assuming that Dickens has no curiosity whatsoever and during the night in his rounds of the house he will not spot the crate.
   “Now here’s what we will do. You are not going to get hyper, but keep calm and stick with the plan,” says my husband, the lead strategist.
     “Since when do I get hyper?” I retort selecting my matched camouflage outfit for the early morning maneuver.
     “When Dickens saunters into the kitchen for his breakfast in the morning, I will pick him up. DO NOT yell or scream. Just follow me into the bathroom and shut the door behind me.”
     “OK. And what if he jumps out of your arms on the way to the bathroom?”
     “DO NOT yell or scream. I will handle this.”
     The next morning when Dickens comes to sit on my lap for a few moments of petting and ear rubbing my husband is not in his agreed upon position dressed in his combat uniform ready to intercept. He is still in the shower. Dickens hops down off my lap, strolls over to his feeding dish and then looks up at me as if to say, “Get out of my way. I’m going outside to play.”
     “Where were you? I think we missed our window of opportunity. He’s outside,” I say. My husband shrugs his shoulders and goes to make a pot of coffee preparing for a lengthy siege I guess.
     Somebody has to do something. I go out on the back porch calling and calling using all the precious little names that I can think of for Dickens. But like a smart kid who knows what is in store for him, there is no Dickens. I know full well, however, that he is hiding somewhere in the bushes ready for a speedy retreat if I even try coming close to ambush him.
     “Now we’ve blown it,” I tell my husband in exasperation.
     We consider our options. We know that it is too late to wish that we had done a better job getting Dickens under control when he was a kitten. I will be the one to hang my head and call the vet’s office to reschedule if we don’t get some results soon.
     Just as I say this we hear the cat door swing open and in comes Dickens. We scramble into position. This time nobody yells or screams, and Dickens gets put in his crate. We load him into the car pretending not to hear his cries of disgust for us tricking him, and we leave the driveway in a rush of squealing tires.
     What an ordeal! Sitting in the waiting room neither of us say anything to each other while our hearts beat loudly.
     “Calm down. We’ve done it one more time,” says my husband.
     We look at all the other docile cats lounging regally in their crates making no big deal of being there. What must they think of this unruly and pampered boy?
     It’s too embarrassing to make much of our behavior when talking with the vet. We attempt to look cool and collected, but I suspect that he has seen enough frazzled owners in his career to know that we are well meaning, but amateurish in our pet control.
     Oh, well. We don’t have to worry about this until next year, or yikes- we have to kennel him while we go away in a couple weeks! Stay tuned to see if we can ever get it right.