Who doesn’t enjoy being loved unconditionally? That’s why so many of us have pets. I love my animals and I know they love me. Pets love their humans with fierce devotion, but other people usually have to earn their respect. Such was the case with Mrs. E’s dog Rascal.
Rascal laid under the table most of the time. He wanted to be readily available in case some of Mrs. E’s spam sandwich made its way to the floor. (Which it did accidentally on purpose, more often than not.) His poor front feet were very sensitive because the terror in the wheelchair had run over them so many times. You see, because of all the spam, sausage and other delicacies he had consumed, Rascal couldn’t move very fast. That is unless I made any fast moves in the direction of his Master’s chair. He did not like anyone moving quickly in Mrs. E’s direction. Even an animal lover like me couldn’t get away with it. Therefore, I cannot blame Rascal for all the nip marks on my shins. I look at every pink scar as a time that Rascal got some much-needed exercise.
The last year or so that we were together, Mrs. E also had a kitty. She had befriended a stray feline who eventually made his way into the house. She absolutely adored that cat. I know the poor kitty must have felt smothered. Like any good mother, Mrs. E felt it was her duty to provide plenty of sustenance for all her babies. It became a problem, because the poor little kitty just couldn’t eat as much as his master wanted him to. There were times he ran and hid from her. This became a source of contention between Mrs. E, and her daughter. I was on the daughter’s side.
If the kitty refused the canned cat food, Mrs. E would open a can of tuna fish. So now we had spoilage to contend with. Cans of plastic capped tuna and cat food finally had to be removed from the refrigerator and placed in the garbage.
We were in the throes of all this when one morning Mrs. E informed me she didn’t want to take a bath, or change out of her night-clothes. She was mad because she had gotten into trouble the night before. She had gone through a month’s supply of cat food in 2 weeks, not to mention the cans of tuna she had opened to try to entice the kItty to eat more.
By this time, I had become very creative in my approach to her resistance toward taking a bath. The other challenge was to get her to wear something other than one of the two red outfits she had. We washed every day, so I usually let her decide what she wanted to wear. I thought it was important to let her make some of her own decisions about things. This day happened to be Veteran’s Day. Mrs. E was very proud that Mr. E had been a WWII Veteran. I searched her closet and found a yellow top with a big American flag on it. I said she should consider wearing it to honor Mr. E. She totally bought into the idea and was feeling pretty good about it all.
Later, Mrs. E’s daughter stopped over to check her Mother’s grocery list. In the process she found “someone” had discovered the cans of cat food she had hidden. She was a little upset, and rightly so. Mrs. E exclaimed rather loudly,”Mr. E loved cats!” Her daughter not knowing the proud American moment we had experienced earlier said, “What does Mr. E. Have to do with you wasting cat food?” I explained she had Mr. E on her mind because she was wearing the American flag shirt in honor of his service. Now who could argue with that logic? The discussion would have to be put off for another day.
Twice, she tried her best to trick me into going to the little store up the street to buy tuna. The first time, she said she was hungry for a tuna fish sandwich. I went and got the tuna, but when I got back, I mixed it all up with hard-boiled eggs, onion and mayo. I knew this was how she liked it. She was really frowning as she watched me ruin the cat’s tuna. She told me her daughter wouldn’t eat it like that. I reminded her it was for her lunch, not her daughter’s. At lunchtime she said she didn’t want it.
The second time she tried to get me to go buy tuna I refused. I tried my best to convince her the cat just couldn’t eat the amounts of food she wanted him to. A little later, she said she was really craving an RC Cola. I agreed to go get it for her. As I was running out the door, she yelled after me, “Oh, and if you get a chance, pick up a can of tuna.” Funny, but I just didn’t have that chance.
As the little kitty grew, he was less interested in being in the house and much of the time he cried to get outside. I thought if he was fixed, he might calm down a little and be a better pet for Mrs. E. I learned that the Friends of the Animals had received a grant to spay or neuter cats. The only catch was, they would cut a notch in the kitten’s ear. The purpose was so the animal control people could see the cat had been fixed. I talked with Mrs. E’s daughter about this and we decided to take the chance that we could somehow explain the notch. We knew Mrs. E would not agree to let her kitten have the surgery if she knew they were going to cut off part of his ear.
Everything went fine and it appeared that Mrs. E. hadn’t noticed her beloved kitten had his ear trimmed. Then one day, she was fraught with worry because the kitten had been outside for several hours. I explained that he often did that, and he always came home. She would not be consoled. Finally she said, “I know he’s going to that drunkard’s house up the street.” I asked her why she thought that? She said she knew he coaxed her cat with food, and she was sure he was the one who had cut her kitty’s ear up.” I didn’t touch that one. It was as good an explanation as any. Let’s blame it on the drunkard.
I was only there in the mornings, and her daughter worked. Mrs. E was usually by herself in the afternoons. She did just fine, because she had her animals to keep her company and her life alert pendant in case of an emergency. Her daughter cooked their supper at Mrs. E’s house and the family ate their evening meal together. For years, this arrangement was such a good one. It allowed Mrs. E to stay in her home for longer than it would have otherwise been possible, but the biggest benefit was she got to enjoy her family of pets.
I heard someone say once that old people are like babies only they’re not cute. Let me tell you something. Mrs. E was no baby, but at times, she was pretty darn cute.