Let’s get one thing straight. People can be divided into three categories. Cat people, dog people, and the don’t like animals people. For the sake of this blog post, lets ignore the latter, because firstly, only psychopaths don’t like animals, and secondly I don’t associate with these types for the reason that they must surely be weird.
If you were to ask anyone who knows me, which category I fall into, they’d answer without a hesitation – cats! I am a cat lady. I’m actually surprised that I don’t have “Most likely to be a crazy cat lady” under my name in my year book, but in saying that – does anyone in Scotland even make a yearbook? That might just be reserved for Americans… Anyway, every year, my best friend actually writes on my Christmas card, “To Pam, and your extended cat family”.
My current extended cat family would start at home with former street cat, Alaska. Pure white and velvet to touch, she has tiny pink feet and a bright pink nose. Then there’s my mum’s two cats, Alfie and Poppy. I hold a special place in my heart for Poppy – who we got as a feral kitten. Then there is Mish-Mish – Alaska’s boyfriend, – an unrequited love affair, who comes and pines for her every other night at the back door. It would be cute if he wasn’t the size of a mid range dog, who cries like a hungry baby. Then, theres Torty. Torty is a little tortoise-shell cat who was abandoned by the previous, previous residents of our house, and who still can’t fathom why there are new people and new pets living in her home, so she sits in our drive – hiding under the car, and won’t come near me. I near sobbed when I found out her story, and ever since have dreams about gaining her trust, and taming her enough that she can come inside and live with us.
I’m good with cats. I know how to bath them, feed them, brush them, cuddle them, change the litter etc. But dogs? Not so much… I’ve never had a dog. I’d go as far to say as I was a bit wary around them. When I was younger, my best friend had a dog – and when I first started going around to her house, I was nervous. Glen was a big dog who would jump up on you and bark whenever you first entered the house. He was rude too! He’d stick his nose in everyones crotch the moment they entered the house, and that was just awkward. Eventually, I realised his barks and jumps were excited-ness, and that he was really just a big softy who wanted head pats and food. He was the only dog I’d say I liked.
When Corona first hit, and I’d lost my job, I felt like I had lost my purpose. I wasn’t working, there was no gym, I couldn’t see friends, no travel…. and who was I? Where was my life headed. Yet boyfriend’s life still included a hefty work schedule, and so, he suggested that we adopt a cat, probably as something to cheer me up, soothe my soul and give me a daily purpose.
My dreams were coming true! I was finally grounded – I’d get to sleep in a routine, I wouldn’t be forced to endure aircraft food anymore, and best of all, I’d have a little fur baby to cuddle, whilst boyfriend worked away in the confines of his home office, or played playstation.
As I held her in my arms at the animal shelter, and she purred away contentedly, I fell in love. Unfortunately, once home, I can’t say the feeling was mutual. On her part, she only had eyes for my boyfriend. I mean, I can see why – she wouldn’t be the first girl to fall hard for his charms. It didn’t take my boyfriend (a self confessed dog person), long for him to fall in love with her either, and in no time at all, they were curled up together on the sofa watching TV, or learning tricks (like to sit for treats – no joke), and meanwhile, I was still perched on the edge of the couch, alone.
“I want a dog.” Boyfriend told me. I knew he wanted one – he’d always told me that when he got a place with a garden, that’s when he’d commit to a dog. I couldn’t much be bothered with a dog. I already had one pet, and she was enough, plus… I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about with dogs, and, well… didn’t they require more care than a cat? Didn’t they smell? I mean, I couldn’t say for sure but people always said it. “I’ve had dogs before,” he reassured me. I stupidly assumed it’d be a walk in the park then, figuratively, and literally.
Time passed, and after scanning the adverts for a dog to find one that would be compatible with Alaska and our home set up, we ended up with a Japanese Shiba Inu puppy called Kayro. It was a close call between him and a bull dog that I had fallen in love with, but alas, the bull dog was not meant to be, and on the drive home, there we were, this tiny little pot bellied puppy who sniffed and cried all the way home while I clutched him to my chest.
It’s weird when you first get a pet isn’t it? You bring home this little fur ball – a virtual stranger who you know nothing of their idiosyncrasies or traits yet, just praying that it’s all going to be okay. Boyfriend was smitten. I didn’t know how I was supposed to hold him. Cats were all light and kind of floppy…. he was rigid and quite solid and did not like being held like a baby – something that Alaska liked. He’d stick his legs out in some kind of direct leg lock whenever I tried to hold him, making weird snuffly noises. But he was a baby. Didn’t all babies like to be held or comforted???
We were one week in, and it was hard work. Not only had I started a new job mere days before, but I was tired, learning a completely new career, and now I had a puppy. Puppy was, as they all are, undeniably CUTE, but what I wasn’t prepared for, was just how much this teeny tiny fluff ball could inflict so wreak such havoc on the house. He chewed, everything. From the table legs, to the chair legs. From the corners of the furniture to my flip flops. From the corners of notepads to THE BRAND NEW SKIRTING BOARDS. The thing chewed, and chewed, and chewed. He chewed all day, and all bloody night. And if he wasn’t chewing something solid, he’d be attempted to chew me, the cat, or boyfriend’s toes.
Kayro fought with the cat constantly, the two as bad as each other for instigating battles over toys, food and pet beds. I couldn’t get a shred of work done in-between the constant fights where she’d go for his eyes and he’d attack her tail. Never-bloody-ending. And then there were the constant pee breaks. Tiny dog means tiny bladder. Every two hours, he needed taken out for a bathroom break and it was something that I couldn’t grasp, as the constant stream of work saw hours bypass me in a blink.
As a puppy with boundless energy, he also needed to be taken a daily walk, which was another battle… At first, he wouldn’t even want to leave the house and would give chase the moment he saw the leash. Then, mid walk, he would give up intermittently, and just slump down on a grass patch and refuse to move, resulting in me having to carry him home. Fiercely stubborn by nature of the breed, he only does what he wants, and only when he wants to do it.
We went through two leashes, because that was another thing he enjoyed chewing. Early morning rises and late getting to bed late every night… I was getting tired. My tired though was nothing compared to boyfriend’s, which he voiced on several occasions in the beginning. “I know someone who will take Kayro.” he told me, the day after we returned to what I can only refer to as a shit show.
While we were at a friends birthday one afternoon, Kayro for the first time ever had managed to navigate the stairs, where he had found himself confronted by Alaska’s cat food waiting at the top, tempting him. Kayro presumably inhaled it. Unfortunately for him, and even more unfortunately for me, cat food doesn’t quite agree with him tummy, and so, the remnants of his upset stomach and doggy vomit expanded from the bathroom, to the living room, to the sofa to the closet and across several rugs. I never smelled anything like it, and I was literally gagging and balking as I scrubbed it off the floor while boyfriend cursed the day we got a dog. Our beautiful house! I was going to have to call in the professionals… I needed someone to clean the couch.
To say that Boyfriend was unimpressed is the understatement of the year. He was angry. Livid. “He isn’t a dog. Dog’s don’t do stuff like this! He should be toilet trained already!!!” he groaned. I knew he was just annoyed, and if you’d seen the mess, you would be too. My heart sank – because although Kayro was frustrating at times, he was a baby, he wasn’t feeling well and I was starting to become attached to him. I knew Kayro’s day’s were potentially numbered and another incident like this might push boyfriend over the edge towards rehoming the dog. What could I do?
“But he’s a baby!” I implored. “…and… I… I love him!”.
I began taking Kayro everywhere I went that he could go to relieve the tension that was looming over Alaska and Boyfriend in the house. Boyfriend had a lot of work on his plate, and I didn’t have eyes in the back of my head. It was draining and demanding having to act like a Peace-Keeping Mission between the two animals, as well as chew controller before he destroyed anything else in the house. Instead, I took him to BBQ’s, lunch dates, a Polish Pierogi Party, to meet friends, to play with friends kids. You name it, I took him, tucked in in my trusty hold all, sneaking him into taxis all over the city.
I began to feel like Kayro and I were bonding. He would follow me around the office and the house, trotting away at my heels. He’d make little “wuffffff” noises whenever the door went or the phone rang, even if he was asleep. His legs would jerk as though he was dreaming, when he slept. He’d sit on my knee while I typed away furiously at my laptop, and every now and again, he’d sniff me and then try to lick my ear reminding me to take a five second breather for myself.
Twice a week I started taking Kayro to the office with me – a place where he now has his own dedicated fan club and a dog friend to play with courtesy of the boss. Tensions at home with the cat and dog were still rife, and it was still a slippery slope with his chewing and the odd bathroom blip, but in that time, despite his nuances, I was starting to fall a bit more in love with the dog each day.
I enjoyed his company when I took him places. The way his little sad eyes would stare up at me in the morning or when he wanted a treat were irresistible. I alluded to his charms. I began to look forward to our evening walks, particularly as I had befriended all my fellow dog walkers and their dogs too. It was really more of a social event now – a welcome break from the four walls where I was working so much, too busy for the gym or a social life it felt like these days.
Even on the days where he has chewed my favourite flip flops, and then again chewed through the second favourite pair of flip flops… I loved him. I had even become accustomed to his dog smell. He didn’t smell that bad, but his ears didn’t smell like roses either. What the hell was happening… was I turning into a dog person?
I posted pictures of him on my socials, kind of judging myself for being ‘one of those people’. He’d began to play fetch with me, and he’d happily let me clean his ears and shower him with cuddles and forehead kisses. He even let me hold him and carry him around now.
Who had I become? I secretly loved it when the kids in my district would come bounding over to cuddle Kayro because he was the new pup on the block, and he was cool AF.
Boyfriend on the other hand, hadn’t been taking him to places in the way that I had, nor had he been smuggling puppy into work in clandestine gym bags. They were still in the bonding phase. “He follows you around anywhere you go! You can just tell he loves you more… ” he said as he cuddled Alaska and rubbed underneath her chin. “You’re my favourite!” He said to her. I bent down to Kayro and whispered, “That’s okay, because you’re my favourite.”
How the tables had turned. Boyfriend was supposed to be a dog person. He didn’t like cats…! What was going on?!
We have had Kayro now for just less than 2 months. Already, he sits, fetches, plays football, loves bikes, likes cuddles
and loves me the best. As I posted yet another picture of him on my Instagram, the usual suspects started replying.
“Gorgeous Pup! Welcome to the club!” A friend replied.
“I never wanted a dog…” I replied to my friend who has known me for almost 20 years.”
“I’m so happy you got a one! You’re also showing signs that you may not end up as an old cat lady – which is a bonus!”
I laughed as I typed back, “Which is what I know everyone who knows me feared and predicted in my future!”
“No comment!!! But really, I always knew. you’d be fine. It was just you who guessed you wouldn’t.”
Maybe I will be fine after all…