I’ve mentioned previously that I do have a smattering of relatives in the area. I moved to this area first (a pioneer!) and established myself for many years before my aunt and uncle moved here. They were then followed by two of their kids. It’s rather nice to have some family in town, though we really only see each other every couple to three months.
I received a text from my aunt (my Mom’s sister) a few weeks ago. She told me that they would be going to her father-in-law’s memorial service this weekend and asked (since both of my cousins are going) if we would mind keeping their dog, Bridget. Bridget is a Springer Spaniel. But, not your typical Spring Spaniel. I’ve seen Bridget roll her eyes at the scampering antics of other dogs. Bridget is mellow. Bridget is sweet. Bridget was a rescue dog. I love that dog. My aunt and uncle adopted her before their kids moved to the area. I established a relationship with her and I (me!) ended up in the will as the recipient of Bridget should something happen to both my aunt and uncle. When the kids found out they somewhat protested, but my aunt pointed out that they didn’t live here when that decision was made and that they both have multiple dogs and Bridget prefers to be the one-and-only (remember the eye rolling. There may be occasional heavy dog sighs, too, when other dogs are around. As if she’s really being put upon).
At the time I received the request we had not even brought Colby Jack home. So, I felt a little unsure.
Let’s step back and give you some context to explain that uncertainty. Remember Slater? Love of my life, center of my universe? Who’s death due to kitty cancer last December compelled me to get a memorial tattoo? For a cat? Yeah, her. She of the grey and white. The super-snuggler, the super-talker. My shining star. I still miss grey.
Anyways, Slater didn’t like other animals. They had cautioned me about that when I adopted her. And that fact became obvious every time coon cat (that’s what we call a large neighbor cat who sometimes lounges on our property) would happen to walk by our sliding glass door and pause to look at the pretty grey cat behind glass. She would get all puffy and threatening and would generally fall apart. When I adopted her I was fine with the fact that she didn’t get along with others. I was a single chick in an apartment. I wanted a one-and-only. And, so she was. By the time the husband came along and we got married and moved into a larger house Slater (and I) were stuck in our ways. I was unwilling to allow dogs come over. I was unwilling to even consider adopting a dog. Because I was unwilling to rock her world in any way. She was my bestest bestest.
Fast forward to my aunt asking if we would take Bridget for the weekend. I had met CJ once. However, I already sensed that he was very different than Slater. I think that part of Slater’s clinginess was due to lack of confidence. She was not the bravest of creatures. CJ, on the other hand, struck me, on that very first meeting, as a rather confident cat. He, in all of his orange glory, was not in a cat cage. He was free, wandering about the cat house whilst others sat watching him from cages. He would casually mosey by a cage and poke his nose in. If greeted by a hiss he would mosey on, unfazed. It was that showing of confidence (and a desire to make sure that Bridget didn’t get sent to a kennel for the weekend, which I’m quite certain would cause her to DIE in utter mortification) that compelled me to tell my aunt that we would take her.
Once we brought Colby home it also became apparent that, despite all of his scampering and playing and scampering and galloping (when a 13 lb cat gallops up and down the stairs you hear him) that he is a rather mellow boy. Slater would never let me flip her onto her back. Colby? Doesn’t care. I can pick him up and cradle him like a baby. Now, he doesn’t have a lot of time for that…because he’s busy. Very busy. But, he’ll let me do it.
By the eve of Bridget’s arrival my thoughts had changed from, “I hope he’ll do okay with a dog here,” to “I hope Bridget can tolerate him and his incessant busy-ness. This cat is going to drive her crazy and we’re going to get a lot of eye rolling.”
Boy, was I wrong. Flat, splat, off-my-rocker wrong.
The initial meeting took place upstairs. CJ was on our bed. Bridget was dancing around outside our bedroom door.
CJ: Puffy growling (the 13 lb cat looked to weigh about 30 lbs and his tail was as big as a raccoon’s).
Bridget: Squat in doorway, pee on floor.
Well, that went well.
Dog was taken downstairs, pee cleaned up, attempts were made to de-puff cat, everyone went to bed.
On Friday morning I packed CJ upstairs before Bridget was allowed out of the laundry room. My husband took her out, I got ready for work, then came downstairs for breakfast. Just after pouring my cereal I saw CJ creeping down the stairs. I followed him as he headed down into the family room. Bridget was in the family room on her pillow.
In hindsight, we should have handled things differently.
Bridget saw CJ. CJ turned to run back upstairs. I attempted to get in between the two so I could block Bridget. CJ ran into my legs…hard…then darted past me and ran upstairs. I was yelling at Bridget to get back on her pillow and (thankfully) she is a very good, very obedient girl. She slunk over to her pillow, ears down (I think me yelling at her hurt her feelings). I headed upstairs to check on my boy.
He was on the bathroom counter. He looked like a 40 lb cat.
And then I realized that not everyone had come out of the encounter unscathed.
I’ve mentioned in a prior post that I adopted Colby from a local rescue group. He had been hit by a car. After being hit by a car he underwent a femoral head ostectomy (FHO), which is a surgical procedure that removes the head and neck from the femur. When I first met him at the cat house he was a few weeks out of surgery and still limping pretty heavily. When I brought him home two weeks ago he was limping very little. Only after playing really hard.
You guessed it. I picked him up from the counter and put him on the floor and it was immediately very apparent that he was limping…badly. Like, barely bearing weight on his foot badly. My heart sank. I injured my brand new cat.
I laid down on the floor with him…comforting him, calming him down, trying to gently touch his leg to see how bad it was. He didn’t flinch when I touched it, but when he got up again he continued with a significant limp.
I called the vet’s office where he had the surgery and, when one of the tech’s called me back an hour later, shared with her what had happened and what was going on. I shared my fear that he had been reinjured. She gave some reassurance, saying reinjury was impossible since the head and neck of the femur had been removed. The only further injury that could be done would be if he had fractured the femur. I didn’t think that was what I was seeing. At that point, he was resting comfortably on our bed napping.
I arranged to take him in on Saturday morning at 11 am. Mostly for my own peace of mind. I went to work (pausing in the laundry room to give Bridget some love as she was still looking sad), the husband stopped home at lunch and reported the CJ accepted his pets and some food but didn’t really get up. I worried.
I got home from work and he was under the bed. I worried. He crawled out and it seemed that his limp, while still very present, was a little better. I coddled him.
He stayed in our room for the remainder of the evening and, by the time we put him out in the garage, he was purring.
I brought him in Saturday morning and he looked much better. He was brighter and the limp was better. The husband and I agreed that it’s likely that he just wrenched that still-healing area (apparently it can take a few months for complete recovery from an FHO), so I called the vet’s office and cancelled. Of course, after that he jump up and down from the bed a couple of times and the severity of the limp increased. But, that seems to support that with rest (and limited leaping) he’ll be okay.
So relieved. I was quite convinced we had broken our new cat and was feeling pretty darn low.
For the remainder of the weekend Colby J. ruled our bedroom (with us visiting him regularly) and Bridget spent her time in the family room (and lingering hopefully in the kitchen when I was in there. She was really disappointed on Saturday morning when I spent a great amount of time in the kitchen and no food was produced because I was cleaning).
Bridget went home Sunday evening. She seemed to have a good time with us (in spite of the fact that we acquired a cat since the last time she was out), though she was ready to go home. Colby was very happy to have his house back and, with each passing day, the limp decreases, confirming our relieved suspicions that he just tweaked it.
Well, it was a nice dream that they would just click. Delusional? Perhaps.