Nobody warned me.
On the TV show The Big Bang Theory, the one created by Chuck Lorre without Charlie Sheen, when geeky Sheldon gets really upset-can't sleep, he asks Penny across the hall to sing a lullaby. I guffaw every time she croons , "Soft kitty..." to Sheldon.
I don't know what time it is. It's dark. I've flopped around in my sleep several times postponing getting up to pee. The Pooch jumps on the bed without sharpening his claws on the fabric of the bed platform. He doesn't walk over me three times looking for a warm, soft place to curl up. Grateful that he's just there to sleep, I pet him. "Soft kitty...sleepy kitty. Wait. What the hay?
There's a lump in the spot between his shoulders where I apply Frontline. For a week I avoid petting him on that area because I sometimes chew my fingernails without thinking where and what my paws have been dipped in My doctor told me to get a tetanus shot (it's been over 10 years since the last) because I handle horse manure. I didn't tell her about nail biting. She's pretty sharp about getting people like me to get a tetanus shot. Lockjaw from handling horse hockey is more of an impetus than stepping on a rusty nail.
Back to the lump. There's only one thing to do. In the early morning dark, the overhead light is the closest thing to a laser in the house. Dawn runs screaming from the room, "I'm blind, I'm blind." I dig into El Gatto's shoulder. Yes, it's a tick. So much for the $37 tick and flea prevention. Luckily, it's one of those gray, flat ticks that looks like a sunflower kernel. Or is it?
The full tick treatment involves running downstairs naked, getting the special tweezers, finding a stick match, some rubbing alcohol(we're out of peroxide since I quit gargling with it) and a cotton swab. Dr. G here gives the cat a .22 caliber long rifle cartridge to bite down on and a swig of catnip tea.I yank. The thing comes out intact including the jaws which bore into the skin. The Pooch is hardly disturbed, stretched out in a sphinx like posture. Whatta guy.
If I hadn't consigned Mandy to the breezeway overnight, we'd have the whole episode of the Pooch and Mandy show.
Every night it's the same routine. Mandy sleeps on her chair until the movie is over. Bruce Willis is the mobster boss, Bigg, complaining that reading the paper over a bowl of cereal and checking out the box scores calms him. It's a small pleasure in a day filled with violence. "Mandy, time to go out." I grab a flashlight, a hooded sweatshirt and the dog scoots out the back door. We walk up the road and down. She checks out a few smells, scans the perimeters and when she's sure there is nothing lurking in the shadows does her business. But tonight there's no business. "I am not getting up at 12:30 when you do your monkey grunt, Unh, Unh." It's not like I didn't feed her right on schedule. After throwing up her special diet " Taste of the Wild" -no grain- dog food five times in a row, I've switched her to brown rice, chicken and vegetables. She gets measured amounts of bulk.
The routine after a successful tour of the outside lavatory is that Mandy grabs here fleece blankie and goes upstairs to "her" bedroom to pretend suckle the mother substitute. Not tonight.
The woeful look she gives me when it appears that she'll be sleeping on a faux-fleece, wool blanket covered specially made dog bed from log cabin siding leftovers would melt the heart of a death row inmate. I get her blankie and my old sheepskin fur coat, spreading the coat flat over the wool blanket and faux sheep fleece, turn off the light and lock the door to the breezeway. The back door of the enclosure has no lock. I prop it open with a door-stop so Mandy can use the backyard pen at 12:38 am without waking me. Then I go to sleep, toss and turn, worried that the overnight temps will dip precipitously.
In the morning I unlock the breezeway door and both animals streak out into the wet dawn. Mandy races back in the house while the Pooch checks the over-night activity. He'll be standing on the patio outside the kitchen window in 10 minutes, giving me a longing look while I fix breakfast. Mandy curls up on her chair next to the TV. When I glance over at her, she's shivering. Oh gee. Now I did it. Poor thing spent a cold night, all alone, friendless wondering what she did wrong. I sit down next to her and wrap an arm around her. I'd like to think that she enjoys the comfort, but I know this hound is really just smelling my breath. "Is that bean sprouts on your breath? For breakfast? Eeyew. I smell hash browns, jalapenos, tofu and cubed left over roast pork. I want some."
Nobody warned me.