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Pets: An Immediate Family Four-Fold In Love
By Kendall De Menech. I have said over the last few years that two dogs in my home was plenty. I was so happy to see both my dogs relate well, play together and in doing so supply me with a sense of immediate family. There is constant love, joy, play, tasks, duties and things to do when there are two dogs. Not that only having one dog is not fulfilling……..two just doubles it and also gives each dog a sibling/playmate.
Then the inevitable urge struck. I missed having a cat. The urge would raise its head much like a nicotine urge to a quitting smoker. I love cats. I love their individual uniqueness, their mind set that says: “If you show me you love me, then I will love you back”. I love their coat, their purr, their cuddliness and their humor. But I don’t like their shedding of the coat, their nail scratching on my brand new couch or their litter box. When my black and white Rascal passed away a few years ago I vowed not to get another cat.
So I got a guinea pig. I was also looking, at the time, for a therapy pet for the pool. With some dogs it really helps to gently, safely, caringly (never putting the wee animal in danger) place an animal in the pool to motivate a disabled or depressed dog. I have used cats on deck, ferrets in the water and even my good friend Ducky, the mallard. Logically I could not keep the duck here because I am not allowed, by the Wildlife Act, to own a wild duck and as much as I love ferrets (had one for years) they are smelly and need a big outdoor cage. And I was not going to get a cat! So I called my friend Jodi at the Abbotsford SPCA and said: “I want a gp.” She said she would be right over and please put the tea on.
Herbie is lovely. He is gentle and patient Guinea Pig and he arrived in Jodi’s arms along with food, a cage, a water bottle, dishes and litter. Herbie lives in the pool room and Bear my poodle is mad about him. If I put Bear on a towel on my nice burgundy couch that I don’t want scratched up, and Herbie between Bear’s front legs, Bear licks him all over. Herbie goes: WEEEEE, WEEEEEE, WEEEE” as Guinea Pigs do and then Herbie poops. Bear gets so excited! Then he eats the poop……….and starts licking Herbie again. WEEEEEE, WEEEEEEE, WEEEEE and another poop comes out. Bear gobbles it up. I think Bear thinks that Herbie is a Pez Dispenser! Herbie is fitting well into our house.
Herbie earns his keep by floating on his red mat in the pool once or twice a week and motivating dogs to kick their legs and come see him. He is currently helping Claire a border collie who had back surgery for a damaged disk. She is slowly improving and quite enjoys her little swimming buddy. Herbie is four years old so longevity is not a big issue for me and he eats my leftover vegetables. He is better than having chickens, for sure. I like Herbie and am glad he is here.
Then, Jodi called me again. She told me a twelve year old cat was found by the side of the road and it was spread-eagle, unable to walk. It was also covered in motor oil. A good Samaritan brought it into the Abbotsford SPCA and the cat was rushed to Ellwood Park Animal Hospital. It was thought the tortoiseshell cat was hit by a car but no injuries were found. It was deduced that the cat could not walk because it was so overweight! The poor thing was 19 pounds and could not support its own weight! (It reminded me of my lab Noah who was 176 pounds when first found). At a healthy weight, the cat should ring the bell at 9 or 10 pounds. Jodi tried for 3 days to get the cat to walk but other cats, toys, different environments could not entice the cat to use her legs. So, to the shock of her staff, Jodi called me as asked me to swim the cat.
This was not an odd request for me as I have swum 3 cats over the last ten years. I said: “Sure”. Jodi came over and I put tea on. The cat named Charlotte was lovely but it took me two hands and a supportive knee under her enormous belly, to get her out of the crate and into the pool. She was gently introduced to the water via a floating mat and only swam briefly but that little bit of exercise made her pant. She could only handle minimal exercise. She never bit or scratched. We dried her off and Jodi took her back to the shelter. She phoned me later to say Charlotte was walking.
Charlotte needed to try the pool a couple of more times until her legs were strong enough to support her and walking could become her regular exercise. I explained this to Jodi and then to my shock I added: “Car travel back and forth from the Shelter for a cat is frightening so I will foster her here at my house for the next few days.” As the word “foster ” escaped my lips I turned pale and tried to stuff it back into my mouth…………….too late.
I hate the “f” word. I am a foster failure. I adopted Charlie last week. I love her. She is the best companion cat. So far she has lost 3 pounds and can now run plus jump up on the couch. I vacuum more often and change the litter box daily. If she begins to scratch my couch I say “No!” and she stops, blinks up at me and purrs. She sleeps beside me and if I wake up with insomnia in the middle of the night, I just touch her silly fur and she quietly rumbles me back to sleep. Bear loves her and tries to lick her bum in hopes of a surprise donation of a glossette raisin but she just slaps him on the nose. He is ok with that. She rules this place.
I now have an immediate family four-fold in love.
K9 H2O:Kendall De Menech owns and operates K9 H2O which hosts an indoor canine aquatic facility with diverse and multifunctional programming.
Secluded in a casual working environment, the facility offers an 80,000 liter, warm water indoor swimming pool, retrofitted and sanitized to accommodate dogs.
All swims are by appointment only. Please call or fax to: 604-864-2284.