Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekend house guests makes for loads of entertainment

Original print date August 7, 2012
Chariton Valley News Press

There are so many perks to being an aunt. I’ve spent years perfecting the spoil them and send them home technique. I even have the payback technique down to an art these days since my siblings were so good at hyping mine up and sending them home as well. A couple of weekends ago, Larry and I entered a whole new realm of being an aunt and uncle. We are once again honing our spoiling skills with the great niece and nephew but that weekend, we learned a new skill – dog sitting!
As my nephew took the family on a long weekend, we were asked to dog sit the most precious family pet – the weiner dog Annie. Little did we know the entertainment factor in dog sitting for the active and rambunctious dog would be far more valuable than anything money could buy.  Annie is a rescue dog. Therefore, Annie loves life and exploring every crack and corner that life offers. This translates to Annie annoyed the daylights out of two cats for three solid days.
Annie has far more energy than her appearance would lead you to believe. If you stretch the tape measure to the last possible mark, her legs might be four inches long. The sum total of all four legs is about a foot short of totaling the length of her body from nose to tip of tail. It does not affect her ability to cover ground in record time. It does lead to some problems for her in body control at times though.
We first witnessed this after letting her out of the kennel the first evening she was with us. Her curiosity led her to exploring the house – much to Zoey’s dismay. I wasn’t sure what caused the commotion at first. I heard a snarling scream from the cat followed closely by the clickety-click of Annie’s pursuit down the hallway. Zoey was on record setting pace through the dining room and into the kitchen with Annie close behind.
The corner to the basement steps where Zoey sought refuge was no problem for the nimble cat. Annie tried her best to stay on track but unlike Zoey who knew to slow down before making the sharp turn, Annie failed to slow for the hairpin left. Her front half made it just fine. Unfortunately, the momentum of her back half caused the apple cart to overturn. She rolled into the refrigerator door. Zoey’s cat instinct told her what was coming because she stopped at the top step of the stairs to watch the wreck that was going to happen.
I will give Annie credit though. She didn’t give up. The next morning as I was making breakfast, I witnessed a repeat performance. The clickety-click of her toenails once again caught my attention. Annie slowed down for the first hairpin turn but failed to factor in the quick second turn before hitting the first step. She took out the trashcan that time. Zoey was about three steps down before she stopped this time. I know that cat was laughing.
Larry came home from work and we were fixing lunch when the curtain was raised on the third act. By this time, I figured out what started the commotion to begin with. Annie found the cat food. Zoey was not impressed and would take a swipe at the poor, starving dog every chance she got which led to the high-speed chase. The third time proved to be a charm for Annie though. Zoey once again stopped about three steps down waiting for the crash and burn she just knew was about to happen. Much to Zoey’s surprise, Annie made the corner this time and was one step away from inflicting revenge before Zoey realized Annie had learned to navigate the corner. They disappeared into the depths of the basement. The racket that followed had me concerned for Annie’s safety. Jake assured me all the critters were safe. Annie had Zoey “treed” and was baying like a full-blooded coonhound.
The fun didn’t stop there. Later that evening, Zoey once again took offense at Annie helping herself to a snack from the cat food container. Since she now knew Annie could navigate through the kitchen, she took a different route.
The clickety-click once again echoed through the house. Larry looked up to watch the show only to be shocked at becoming a character in their production. Instead of the right turn into the kitchen, Zoey made a left into the living room, ducked under the foot rest of Larry’s chair, jumped onto the couch and disappeared over the ledge of the window into the stairwell and to safety.
Not to be outdone, Annie decided to take a shortcut and try to cut Zoey off at the pass. Annie made the first left hand turn with precision. All body parts were cooperating. Her back half was staying in the tracks blazed by the front half. Instead of following the sneaky cat, Annie took a short cut. She leapt over the armrest on Larry’s chair and raced across his arm, stomach and legs. The footrest served as a perfect springboard to the couch. Annie was in perfect timing to beat the cat at her own game.
Thankfully, Larry was not taking an evening nap and his reflexes were sharp. Annie was positioned perfectly at the top of the couch and the bottom of the window overlooking the stairwell ready to pounce on Zoey with one quick motion when Larry grabbed her before she fell to her death. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to explain to my young niece and nephew that my cat tricked their dog into suicide on the stairs.
Sunday afternoon brought an end to our weekend of entertainment. Annie went back home to her real family. Chloe came out of hiding finally. She had disappeared at the first sign of our house guest. Zoey plopped down in the middle of the living room with great fanfare when she realized the offending house guest was gone. She could once again eat in peace.
Larry and I made sure to put our names at the top of the list to dog sit again. We could not rent all the movies at the movie store and be as entertained. I’m sure Zoey will not be impressed if Annie comes back to visit. Even Shylo seemed to sigh a breath of relief when Annie left.
All the commotion in the house was just too much for Shylo to take in three short days. Who knows, maybe we will just borrow Annie a couple of nights this winter to go coon hunting. She seems to have a knack for treeing the cat. Maybe she can find us enough coons to generate Christmas funds this year.

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