Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Elusive Pup

That’s what I call my younger Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Mystie. She always slips into or out of rooms faster than I can keep track of her. Once, when I was leaving on a trip, I ushered Lexie and Mystie into the kitchen, gave them their goodbye treats, and locked the gate to keep them in the kitchen, where both pups stay when we’re gone. When I turned around, she was behind me--and not in the kitchen at all! I put her back in and locked the gate, but when I got to the airport I called my pet-sitter again to please go check on her as soon as possible, to ensure she hadn’t sneaked out again when I wasn’t looking.

I always watch Mystie when I go out our front gate, trying to ensure she’s behind me and hasn’t slipped around onto the street. And she’s been known to slip into a neighbor’s yard through a very narrow-slatted fence and wind up stuck under the platform where we mutually keep our garbage cans.

And why am I writing about Mystie now? Well, yesterday, when I was checking my e-mail, I heard a very pitiful cry from the kitchen--Mystie’s. I assumed Lexie was playing keep-away with a toy and didn’t leap up immediately. But then Lexie started barking in a tone that wasn’t her “I’m alpha dog so just try to get the bone away from me” one, so I dashed into the kitchen... and didn’t see Mystie. Fortunately, I figured out immediately where she was. I had just gone into our pantry to pull out a can of soup for lunch and hadn’t checked dog locations afterward. Sure enough, when I opened the pantry door, out popped Mystie. I thanked Lexie with a treat, of course, and gave Mystie one to make her feel better.

I’ll have to use this in a book sometime... In fact, I’m writing something similar now about a kitty.

How about you? Do you have any elusive pets? Do your pets inspire your writing?



Sheila Connolly said...

I think anyone with pets will recognize certain peculiar behaviors, like looking around your feet every time you open or close a door or start down a flight of stairs (I have cats, and they can move fast). Since it becomes a habit, you do it when you're in other homes, even though there are no pets.

While I don't include talking animals, I do use them as a sort of litmus test for character. If a dog or cat in the story doesn't like someone, that person must be evil.

Terri Thayer said...

Just one cat. Never elusive. Always at my feet, in my lap, spilling my tea. She has boundary issues.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I always do the Cavalier Shuffle, Sheila, even when I'm not home. And I do think that pets are generally intuitive about people, so I can buy the idea of someone disliked by a dog or cat being evil. In my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries, Kendra enlists the animals to help unearth the killers.
My elusive Mystie also likes to levitate into my lap, Terri. She hugs my face when she needs to go out, and falls asleep when she doesn't.

Kate Hathway said...

I open doors more slowly than most people, and "Back up, guys" is the first thing I say every time I come home. The training advice of 'never let a dog go through a door first' is something I completely ignore, after closing the door, twice, on dog tails. Now I just step to the side and follow them after I've counted that they're all out.

And I also agree that if an animal, especially a dog, doesn't like someone, there's a good chance the person isn't nice, to varying degrees (unless they hate/are scared of lots of people or just those at the vet's office, in which case, it's the dog/cat that has an issue).

I try to write (not getting far with anything yet), and dogs, and other animals, end up in the stories, no matter what. Not that that's a bad thing at all, of course. Godness knows, I prefer to read stories with animals in them, if the story has all the other things that make a good story. That started with The Pokey Little Puppy, I'm sure!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I'm always nervous about dog tails, too, Kate, since Cavaliers' are long and wag a lot. And keep on writing--especially about animals!

BTW, I'm mad at myself for blogging about Mystie's being elusive. In retaliation, she did her most elusive trick yet this morning! We have a porch beyond our front door that is guarded by a gate. Lexie likes to lie there and watch people go by. There's an opening at the bottom that she can look through. Mystie is much smaller. I'd seen her try to get under the gate and she hadn't been successful... until this morning! Fortunately, the first time, she came when I called her. The second time, I had her on a leash I'd tied to a post--and it took her no time to get through, now that she has the knack!

Janie Emaus said...

I know Mystie and she is adorabe, loving and rather sneaky! And I'm sure she wouldn't want to be anywhere but in your home. She's just a curious little dog!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I suspect, Janie, that my nutcase little dog just chased a sunbeam down the street...!

Julie said...

I've had a cat slip unseen out the door into a -10 degree snowstorm and not be found until I finally tracked the distant-sounding meowing to the front door. I don't believe she ever tried to get out that particular door again.

Had one who spent a lot of time shut in the coat closet, one who disappeared into the back of my closet when stressed, and one who hid up a chimney.

Currently I have one who slips into the pantry every chance she gets, and simply de-materializes when the cleaning lady is here.

Frankly, I don't know where she goes, or how a big, extremely fluffy calico can become invisible, but it has a lot to do with the cleaning lady's vacuum. She also has a violent hatred of the carrier she goes into in the car. So far she's trashed one, and the second one, considerably more expensive, has extra clips on all the zippers so she can't open them.

If we only knew what they were thinking...

Linda O. Johnston said...

My Kendra character keeps wishing she spoke Barklish so she could understand her canine friends, Julie. And in fact our pets sometimes do communicate with us. Lexie keeps barking to me when Mystie does one of her disappearing routines. But I agree it would be a whole lot better if we understood what our cats and dogs really meant by their behavior!

Kate Hathway said...

Julie, you didn't exactly say that you have a problem getting the cat into the carrier (just that she hates them), but here's a tipp that might help. Keep the carrier completely out of sight and hearing of the cat (don't move it, and try to open the door several days before you intend to use it - at least if it's not where other critters could get into it). So many people know the disappearing act a cat can do when they even hear the clatter of the dreaded carrier.

Anyway, get a sturdy pillowcase and drape it over your shoulder with the closed end on your shoulder and the open end in your hands. It is sort of 'hidden' this way, as it's just part of your clothes to most cats. (Try to keep yourself calm - if your keyed up or to tentative the cat will notice and decide you're acting weird, often leaving because you're freaking them out.) Walk up to kitty, toss a treat or two in front of them and walk past them. Turn around while their busy eating and 'pop' the pillowcase over their heads and 'swoop' them up, cradling the bottom with one hand and closing the top with the other. Your cat can breathe through the fabric, and the darkness and inability to see out, often calm cats remarkably well. Then carry the pillowcase to the carrier and put the whole thing inside. Many kitties will stay curled up in the pillowcase and a few don't scream quite as much as they normally do in the car. (Cats often have that "If-I-can't-see-it-it-doesn't-exist" mentality.) BTW, if you need to leave your house in an emergency (fire, etc.), a pillowcase is going to be easier to get, faster to use, and often the only way to catch a cat without getting mauled or having them escape your arms when you get outside.

And Linda, I hate to say it, but Lexie sounds a bit like a tattletale. "Mom, Mystie's being bad again - and I'm not - come see!!!" (I had a sweetheart dog who barked when another dog was shredding stuffed dog toys. Of course, when she, herself, did it, she was quiet as a mouse - I think she thought I'd blame the other dog :-) clever girl.)