Not quite a cat lady

My boyfriend loves cats. And when I say “love,” I mean giant swirly-pink-glitter-confetti-type love. If I’m not Spencer’s soul mate (and I certainly hope I am), I’d believe an adorable British shorthair is.

I’m coming to terms with this.

For as much as he likes kittens, I’m afraid of them. I’ve never been a cat person. My family has a big ball o’ fun golden retriever, Rudy, and we fall decidedly on the pup side of the eternal Cat vs. Dog debate. I’ve always had a big dog running around, desperately hoping you’ll “drop” something from the dinner table. In the homes of our family and friends, dogs are a given.

Cats? They’re an entirely different animal — um, pun intended. Until I met Spencer, my experience with felines was limited to cat-sitting our neighbor’s black-and-white angry puss, Stripe, and his successor. If those guys weren’t kicking up kitty litter, hissing or passively-aggressively refusing to eat, they were blocking the door so I couldn’t flee without losing a chunk of my ankle.

They scared me.

It’s the stealthy nature of cats that really freaks me out. When my 80-lb. dog is hurtling down the hallway, I have time to make decisions. I can evade his bulk by side-stepping all that slobber or find a treat to tame him. Rudy is not quiet. He couldn’t sneak up on someone if he put all his goldie-brain-power behind the goal. He’s a big, lovable doof. Who gets mad when you wake him up with a camera.

Rudy is not amused.

Cats are quiet. They hop onto the tops of cabinets and nestle into couch cushions. You might not hear or see them until they dart out from behind a door, scaring the ever-livin’ tar out of you, and the idea of having a cat around demonstrates how unbelievably skittish I am.

On our trip to New York last weekend, Spencer and I spent time with his parents’ cats. The first time I came up to meet his family found me cowering in a corner as Zoe, probably the calmest cat around, innocently tip-toed up to this stranger in her house. I freaked out so bad that Spencer ran in, surprised at desperate way I was calling for him, and I had to explain that yes, I was completely panicking over a little cat walking up to me.

Not my finest moment.

This vacation was my third or fourth time around Zoe and Max, a brother-and-sister pair adopted years before. While Max darted from the room as soon as Spencer and I entered, Zoe didn’t seem bothered by our presence. She hung out with us pretty regularly. Toward the end of our long weekend, she was even cuddling up in my lap and allowing me to pet her. She never took a swipe at me, bared her teeth or tried to sever my limbs. She was just . . . a cute cat. Calm and sweet.

Totally un-Stripe-like.

Knowing Spencer wants to get a cat of his own soon, I’m trying to wrap my mind around cats. As a concept. Having one around, feeding one, cleaning up after one . . . it’s all very mind-blowing. I’m used to the rough-and-tumble nature of a big dog, and the dainty sneak-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night idea of cats causes a bubble of panic to rise in my throat.

Can cats smell fear?

Each feline is different, I tell myself. Not all cats are mean. And not all cats are nice. I have to learn the ins and outs of each — their quirks, personalities. If I’m around Spencer and said cat enough, hopefully the cat will like me. And we will be . . . a little family.

I’ll keep some catnip on me just in case.

Corgis are a girl’s best friend

After enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving meal at my grandparents’ house on Thursday, Palmer and I went over to his house to see a pair of buddies I’d eagerly anticipated meeting: two Pembroke Welsh Corgis! I’m a little bit obsessed with this particular breed . . . I’m not sure when it began, but I’d never actually seen a full-grown Corgi in person. My sister and I saw a tiny puppy a year or so ago, but I didn’t get to play with him. They are just as adorable in person as I had hoped they would be! Dotty and Lily, I salute you. And hopefully someday I’ll be just like Queen Elizabeth: she has 16 of them.



Corgi attack!



Old dogs are the best dogs

If I were to wake up tomorrow on the set of a big-budget melodramatic film with a director standing by my bed — bullhorn in one hand, Starbucks cup in the other — demanding for me to summon every single tear I have in my body to cry — cry, cry, cry as though it would save my eternal soul — would I think about my first love, sitting across from me in a quiet restaurant, telling me he was leaving town (and leaving me) and was there really much left to say? Would I think about family illnesses or the loss of my youth, high school graduation or the death of a family member? Would I think about how fast time goes by and how we all, someday, have to face the consequences of the decisions we’ve made?


I would think of my dog.

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I wasn’t always a dog person

I don’t know how it comes to be that when I spend any amount of time at a house with a dog, the dog becomes my constant companion. And not necessarily because the dog really likes me, but because I actually really like the dog!



Cheyenne has to be one of my favorites. She and her brother Hunter were adopted by my aunt, uncle and cousin when they were just puppies — about four or five years ago now. Cheyenne and Hunter are from the same litter, and Cheyenne was the “runt.” I don’t think you can really call her the runt now. She’s a very sweet girl — very tumbly and cute. She and Hunter love to run around the house and try and persuade us to give them belly rubs. They’re Sharpei/black lab mixes and have the wrinkly faces that go along with their illustrious heritage. And Cheyenne snores like a banshee.

I wasn’t always a dog person. My parents, sister and I welcomed our first dog Roxie when I was eight years old, and my mom loves to tell everyone how I really didn’t care much about her until I was in middle school or so. The truth was that she scared me a little bit. I wasn’t very tall, you see, and Roxie grew like a weed. In a mere six months or so, she’d catapulted from a tiny puppy who could barely keep her collar from falling off to a giant black-and-brown beast who loved to race me across the yard. Even when I wasn’t trying to race. She also had a penchant for finding things in the yard and bringing them to us as, well, “sacrifices” — things like dead snakes and gophers she dug up. Delightful!

So it wasn’t really until Roxie really got up in years (and I did, too) that I started hanging out with her all the time. When we got Rudy to keep her company as she grew older, Roxie hung with me as Rudy become Kate’s BFF. After thirteen years with us, Roxie passed away on Oct. 22, 2007, and I’ve missed her every day since then. But having Rudy close by kept us from grieving too much or too long — we had him to keep us busy, and he needed lots of love, too.

And lately, my dog love has definitely grown exponentially. What other creature in the world has the ability to forgive and forget, love unconditionally and want to be your constant companion? I know I’m not exactly reinventing the wheel with my pat dog philosophies, but it’s something I really find fascinating: the relationships between man and beast. Reading “Marley & Me” opened up a lot of that, and I think I’m going to tackle “Merle’s Door” next.