Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who's the Baddest?

 Tigger hanging out 

Dixie begging 

It is only human to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes comparisons can inspire us to do better. But sometimes comparisons make us feel better about ourselves. And sometimes, comparisons make us feel better about someone else.

Such is the case with my dear children. No matter how aggravating they may ever be, there are members of our family who consistently exceed the children's ability to make me want to punt them to the curb: our pets.

We have the most precious little dog you have ever seen. She is all of six pounds fully grown. Dixie is a mixture of Maltese and Shih Tzu who thinks she is a Great Dane. She barks and carries on like she's going to eat you. But in truth, she could only graze your ankles.

Then there's our sweet kitty, Tigger. He is a medium-haired orange Tabby. He has the softest fur ever, and is the most affectionate cat I have ever seen in my life. He absolutely craves attention and will literally try to climb you to get you to pet him.

They sound great, don't they?

Well, they are. Except...

The cat is the poster child for all cats when it comes to curiosity. He sticks his nose into absolutely everything. And since he likes people so much, there isn't much he's afraid of. Add to that the fact that he loves, loves, loves to push things off of high places to watch them fall. (Like a baby with the "Oopsie" game who loves to watch things drop to the floor- just so you'll pick them up.) He doesn't care if you pick them up, though. He just loves to watch them splat on the floor and make noise.

The salt shaker isn't bad. And pencils roll off the table nicely for him, but cause little actual damage once they hit the floor. However, cups of milk or juice left at the breakfast table are sure to be puddles of yuck by the time we get home. And honey bottles whose tops open when they hit the floor are gooey, globby messes to clean up.

But the cat is the better of the two.

Dixie loves the great outdoors. In fact, we have had to erect a virtual fortress in our back yard to keep her from escaping and running amok in the neighborhood. Now that we have the yard secure, she simply runs to her favorite places in the fence to scramble through and looks surprised when she can't get out. Every time. (Not a brilliant dog.)

My absolute, all-time, most maddening thing about any member of my household is that my little six-pound ball of fur refuses to go to the bathroom outside. I could leave her out all day long, and she would patiently hold it- until she got inside. There she would go to her favorite little spots and relieve herself, as she does every single day.

We finally ripped up the carpet and stained the concrete floor so that it would be easier to clean up & sanitize. But it is just gross.

Even the most devout animal lover will agree that daily "accidents" in the house make it hard to "adore" her. We have taken her to the vet, who informed us she had no physical reason for doing this. She also said we were doing everything she could think of to help Dixie unlearn this awful habit. But, she concluded, Dixie does not score very high in the IQ department, and maybe, just maybe, Dixie is a little "slow."

I would question the good doctor, except that I have witnessed Dixie do other things that qualify her as a "special" dog. For example, it took her at least a month to realize there was a glass door attached to our front door. We would open the main door, and the poor thing would run, gathering steam as she went, to try one of her famous escapes- only to be stopped quite suddenly and decidedly by the clear glass pane. She would wear a truly confused expression as she wandered over to lick her proverbial wounds.

That is not the worst or the grossest of poor Dixie's habits. But for the sake of discretion, I will leave it at this.

There are days- in fact, usually many times in any given day- that I would gladly trade my animals for a nickle. But I love them, so that just will not do.

And the kids love them. They love to play with them and pet them. (Even though they would rather eat pet food than feed them, walk them, or clean up after them.) And, ultimately, no matter how awful the kids are being- the pets are always worse- in their own little animal ways.

So when I say, "Kids, you are making mommy have a headache," the kids can (and do) reply, "Yeah, but Tigger knocked over a whole glass of milk, and Dixie peed on the floor again." Suddenly my headache compounds. But the kids are in much better favor once again.

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