His First Overnighter

When our George was nearly a toddler, Genna's parents offered to keep him for a weekend so we could get a break from this new overtime job we created.  Genna, when preparing for any kind of event, is very methodical and thorough.  Every one has a check list like a moonshot by NASA, and the list seems to grow each time she checks an item off while I, in this case, load the car.  In essence, it's hard to distinguish the packing for a two day trip from that of a month.  George, being the only grandchild on both sides of the family, was too overloaded with 'stuff', as George Carlin used to say.

Into the SUV went George's clothes, crib, riding toys, throwing toys, puzzle toys, food, etc, to the point if we wanted to pack a sugar cube, it would have to stay home because it wouldn't fit.

There George sat back in his car seat in his short pant suit with white knee high socks, white and black saddle shoes, inspector gadget rain hat, and electric blue sunglasses.  I don't think King Farouk had it any better than this kid.  Off we started from Glen Rock to Englewood Cliffs, NJ praising the side view mirrors all the way. 

We pulled into the driveway just in time for Genna's parents to appear along side the car, open the back door before I could put the car in park, yank George out of his seat restraint, and disappear into the house.

We sat in the car staring at each other for a few minutes, and realized they were not coming back out to help unload the car.  Adding to the fun was the main living area of the house was on the second floor, with the garage underneath, so all this shit (my bad 'stuff') had to be schlepped upstairs, and we'd get to do it all over again in two days.

I don't even remember what we did in those two days; just that we were exhausted from getting him there,and bringing him back home, and George doesn't even remember the weekend.


Smokey and Flair

As you probably have guessed by now, I've gotten a tremendous kick out of all the animals I've ever had, and here's a story about two more of them.

Flair was a Pekingese dog that I got my wife, Genna, early on in our marriage.  Even when I first saw her in the kennel, she had a lively way about her that stood out from the other doggies in the window.  She had fawn markings which were light tan to medium brown, with a black face mask.  She didn't have a pushed in  face (Pekes whose noses can't been seen in profile get more show points), but she probably breathed easier and lived longer because of it.  Pekes were breed to protect the Chinese emperors, and Flair was a ;little lion in appearance and demeanor.

Smokey, a mixed breed American short hair cat, had no regal background, and definitely came from the poor side of town.  Genna picked him up in the parking lot on a very cold Friday evening after she finished teaching for the weekend.  Genna has a soft spot like I do, and saw Smokey wasn't going to survive the weekend without assistance.  He was nearly dehydrated, and his last ounce of fat was burned several days before.

We immediately contacted an emergency veterinarian who IV'ed Smokey and kept him for the weekend.  The vet gave us hope when he said,

"I have a good feeling about him, and believe me, I know cats; I am Egyptian!"

He was right, and we brought Smokey home on Monday, but kept him separate from Flair until he appeared to get his strength back.  We sort of knew what to expect when we did put them together.

Unlike Fat Cat, Smokey was very docile, while Flair was the aggressor.  Smokey most often relied on his fancy paw work to evade a charging Flair, whose very long hair negated any traction her paw pads afforded her, as she would slide past a side stepping Smokey.  These episodes calmed down to once or twice a day, while the rest of the time they just avoided each other.

Smokey did believe in payback, however, but he picked his spots to retaliate.  His favorite moment was to approach Flair as she was sleeping beneath our hutch in the living room.  She would crawl under the hutch from the back and rest her head on the floor with just her nose peering out from under.  I just happened to be in the living room to witness what happened next.

Smokey quietly approached Flair, and sat down on his hind quarter, making sure Flair was asleep.  He slowly raised his front paw above his head, and smacked Flair on the nose, quickly retreating half way up the adjacent steps that led to the second floor.  He sat back down on the steps as if nothing happened, and observed Flair skid in reverse, run in circles around the living room and into the kitchen looking for Smokey, who barely turned his head watching her antics.

I watched this scene unfold three other times, laughing louder after each.

After telling you this story, I don't know how I'll get you to believe that Flair was a very smart dog, but she was in every other way.


Fat Cat

I've already told you stories about Max and Eddie, the two dogs my father-in-law and I kept at our place of business.  Now I have to add the story of the real boss of that establishment.
My late brother-in-law, rest his soul, had a cat he named Phoebe.  When he died tragically, George and I took her in, and put her on the payroll as 'chief mouser' of the premises.  You may recall that the business was located next to the Meadowlands in Secaucus, NJ, where field mice were the majority of the denizens who called the area home.  They weren't much of a bother in the warmer months, but during the winter, they were as heat seeking as the rest of us.  The best deterrent was the presence and scent of a cat, and Phoebe relished her new position.

There were initially two problems, one big and one small.  The big one was the dogs did not welcome Phoebe at first; more on that to follow.  The small one was George didn't like saying the name Phoebe.  I think it reminded him of his son saying it, so he changed her name to Fat Cat ( which aptly described her).  She was a Persian calico, predominately black, with patches of tan and brown that looked brush stroked onto her fur.

Max and Eddie immediately chased Fat Cat when she first arrived, and she sought sanctuary up the ladder to the second story storage area.  Over their barks I could hear her hiss and make that guttural sound cats make when they are extremely annoyed, at the same time swishing her tail which had ballooned to the size of a raccoons.

This lasted about two days, until Fat Cat must have thought 'enough of this' as she made her way down the ladder to confront the dogs. I admit to holding my breath as I watched the encounter.

It really wasn't a fair fight' as Fat Cat dispatched both dogs faster than Joe Louis took care of Max Schmelling in the first round.  As the both dogs came at her, she swiped both noses with one clawed paw each, a left then a right, sending Max and Eddie yelping away with a dose of humility they never forgot.  It was Queen Fat Cat from then on, and their deference never again wavered.

I've always been amazed how quickly most animals can seek their own level, and come to an understanding faster than most people can.

I'm Back 9/22/11

I didn't take a vacation, but I did work feverishly on my first novel, and completed it a week ago.  The editor has it now, and I hope to publish sometime around mid November (fingers crossed).  The title is 'Ark', and I'm putting all of you college sports and paranormal fans on notice!
Stay tuned.