by Buckley Jensen
We have three cats and a dog. My wife says “Cats rule and dogs drool.” I prefer dogs. I saw a bumper sticker recently that proclaimed one of the great truths of the ages…IF YOU WANT TRUE LOVE…BUY A DOG! Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
Huge change of lifestyle for me, this “having cats in the house” business. I grew up around animals. My Grandpa Barton (A.B.) had all manner of farm animals. I loved going to the barn as a child to milk the cows, gather the eggs, slop the hogs, and yes, to feed the feline crew that kept the barnyard free of mice and other undesirables.
My Mother liked animals, too, but she had a rule: No critters in her house! Period! End of conversation! Not even a self-respecting mouse grew to puberty in LaVerda’s domain.
But we could have all the critters we wanted, as long as they stayed outside. For example, my brother Stephen caught a blow snake when he was little and fed it until it was almost as big as a boa. Then his entrepreneurial side clicked in and he invited all the kids to come and watch what happened when he dropped a mouse into a garbage can with, guess who? Admission: Five cents.
When gate receipts did not meet expectations, Steve became San Juan County’s youngest bookie, taking bets from excited kids on how fast his snake could make the mouse disappear, tail and all.
Sister Nedra found a baby skunk. Fell in love with the little fella. Mom and Nedra took “stinker” to the vet in Moab and they came back with the “sanitized” version.
By the next summer, Nedra’s skunk weighed 28 lbs. He followed her everywhere she went, just like a dog. Nedra and Stinker became the closest thing to a “celebrity” the Jensen clan ever had.
There were baby jack rabbits taken by cesarean section; pigeons, ducks, ordinary rabbits, magpies, crows, dogs, cats… the whole nine yards, but none ever darkened the Jensen doorway.
So when I married a lady from Provo almost four years ago, who came from a family which had included housecats for generations, I had a major change in life style. CATS IN THE HOUSE 24 HOURS A DAY! Biggest adjustment of my life.
I tried to be nice to my adopted felines. I figured if the cats liked me, the new wife would like me better. I would find Winky (the alpha cat) in my favorite chair. Instead of picking him up and tossing him on the floor, per my initial inclination, I would try the warm and fuzzy approach… you, know… like you do with a dog!
“Nice Winky… hey boy, lookie here… I will give you the whole couch if you will give me my chair.”
This purring master manipulator opens one eye, looks at me, and his body language says, “Look, you big bully, I was here first… and furthermore, Marcia is sitting right there in her chair, and if you so much as touch me, you will sleep on that couch tonight. Now get lost, you insufferable loser!”
I would look over at Marcia, and she would be smiling sweetly as she watched the two favorite males in her life bonding… and I would sit on the couch and watch the cat monopolizing my chair with a little cat grin on his face and dream of the day when I had a dog to put those spoiled purrers in their place.
And the day came. I not only got a dog (Sophie), but a registered, pedigreed one. Her nick-name is HOOCH. First day Hoochy saw her new home in Monticello, she bounds up on the porch and there sits Winky on the inside window sill with nothing but the screen separating him from this happy little dog.
Sophie sticks her wet nose on the screen to greet the new step-brother and WHAMMO! Winky takes a chunk out of her nose with a right hook.
He watches Sophie exit the porch yelping loud enough to make all the neighbors think I was a canine abuser. Winky looked on approvingly and then walked back to my favorite chair with body language that said, “ Stupid dog… won’t mess with me again.”
Hoochy lives in the garage, and I live with the cats. I clean up after the dog. The cats clean up after themselves. Hooch barks. The cats never say anything. I smell Hooch’s bad breathe and body odor. The fastidious felines wash themselves, and each other. My wife is patient with Hooch and me, although her body language speaks volumes when Hooch starts trying to warn us about all those evil deer that are about to eat the weeds in our back yard.
The cats ignore me, even though I have built catwalks in their room, provided them with real oak trees to scratch, and a double bed to sleep on.
I hung a magnificent picture of a cougar on the wall in their bedroom, hoping they would aspire to become something greater than the conniving welfare cases they really are. All in vain.
Sophie is not perfect, but she loves me. As long as she slathers me with saliva, and wags her tail whenever I am around, I will continue to buy dog chow, and ignore the lack of appreciation from those “better than thou” cats.
Harry was right on this one.