Thursday, January 7, 2016

Dish on Demand

by Patricia Cates

Cats and dogs are fun pets to have don't you think? They bring so much pleasure to the household with their sweet little faces, soft brown eyes and perpetual happy state. My kids love how adorable they all are, and how their warm little bodies are so nice to cuddle with at night. They often fight who gets to sleep with who. We consider them to be members of our family. We truly love our furry friends.
Unless they want in or out. Then we don’t like getting up and down...and then up, and then down.
We actually have a pet door that the house came with, but it’s made for miniature dogs and we have large dogs. We would let our cats use it, but when we leave it open in the winter it lets too much cold air in. In the summer time we can’t leave it open because the kitties think its great fun to bring in live rodents. I don’t particularly mind mice, but when the cat loses track of a mouse, and we don’t know where it is any longer, it poses a problem. The last mouse took two days to recover. We trapped it in our laundry room. Thankfully one particular feline we house is a truly evil and neurotic calico. She sat vigilantly next to the dryer until she had her chance to pounce. One night I finally shut the pet door permanently when another cat brought in the mother of all gophers at 3:00 am. To be awakened by loud scuffling and banging at three o'clock in the morning was maddening in of its self. But when one has to turn on the bedroom lights to chase a gopher for 30 minutes scurrying along the baseboards and hiding under furniture...well you get my drift. The pet door is no longer on an “open door policy” so to speak.
"We" also enjoy our animals until it is time to clean out a cat box or pick up the mess in the yard. However, if "we" masters do not keep the yard picked up, "we" sure regret it when the kids are outside playing and their shoes get mucked up and tracked onto our floors; or when it comes time to mow, rake or pick apples. Also if the little feline pet keepers at our house choose to not clean the cat box, then the house gets unhappy feline rebellion surprises left in the most indiscriminate of places. Enough said.
Feeding the household pets is always enjoyable too. To see their tails wag in anticipation of mealtime is so rewarding. Even the fish we own swim up near the glass as if to say “Hello” and “Good morning!” I noticed last week that our child in charge must have forgotten to feed them for a few days. I say this only because one of the fish now has no fins and just wobbles to propel itself. They’ve been in there for three years with no problem until now. I feel sorry for the dude. He must have been the low fish on the totem pole. Nature is cruel. We can only hope fish fins are regenerative. We don’t flush family.
Hamster feeding is a task NEVER to be taken lightly. Our family bought a cage set up, and two of the most darling long-haired fancy hamster critters you have ever laid eyes on. Our girls named them Bandit (for his markings) and Cory. Sadly, someone forgot to feed the new family members residing in her bedroom, because on day four, Cory had eaten off the left side of Bandit’s sweet little head. Cory in turn died two days later. Apparently raw hamster head isn’t healthy. Lesson learned. If only we had purchased a larger dish, or been told not to put them together. There were a lot of tears shed that week.
At feeding time, and actually all the time, our two dogs run around in a hyper state of glee. They are pretty irresistible when it comes to cuteness. Then there are the cats. They just meow in the most endearing high pitched voices. This is when they are their most flirty. We tend to keep those guys hungry for a few minutes, because we enjoy having their brief undivided attention. They allow us to pet and torture them with our affections a wee bit longer than normally tolerated.
Who leaves out a self-feeder? Some authorities on feline pet keeping say it is fine to let the pet self-regulate their food intake, (although for dogs this is NOT a good idea.) We tried the self-watering unit and it proved a pain to clean as it quickly got full of sludge. Since water is always to be fresh, we fill our dog’s water bowl in the kitchen at least four to six times a day. This in turn spurns on the urge to release the water taken in. But the alternative would be to leave a bone dry bowl. Would it be considered animal cruelty to only give the pets water morning and night, with no snack in between? Or do we feed and water on demand? That is the question. At our home it is definitely dish on demand. We feed our cats up to five times a day. They have their people trained well. Oddly enough all of our pets are at their ideal healthy weight.
We also have door on demand. If we do not let our dogs and cats out or in accordance to their wishes we are met with scratching and/or barking. So the screen, back door and weather stripping are ruined by animal nails (trimmed or not) and the inside metal blinds are completely trashed. These things can be fixed, but won’t be. The neighbors calling the police for a noise ordinance issue is an entire different story. We let our pets in on demand so as not to bother the dear neighbors surrounding us. It is quite a job indeed. It’s strange how the younger folks who reside in our home cannot hear the dogs barking. It must be out of their range of hearing. They can sit on the couch, 10 feet away from the back door, watching an episode of any cartoon and not hear the incessant barking. This could potentially go on for hours. I usually have to yell from upstairs, “Please will someone let the poor dog in.”
We have a huge backyard with lots of grass, shade trees, shrubs, toys, birds, squirrels and various things to sniff, so our dogs are hardly poor. It can be a sunshine-y gorgeous day outside and the temperature is perfection, but the pooches cannot stand to be out there alone. They want to be inside with their people. I’m also pretty sure they think that every time they go to the door to be let out, that it is to play with the children. Instead the kids let them out and shut the door, and leave the dogs sitting there dumbfounded. The child then walks away and resumes sitting down in front of the television. The barking immediately ensues. The kids really should be outside playing. Unfortunately we have Dish on Demand at our house, and so the cycle continues.

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