Friday, September 7, 2007

A Day in the Life

Once upon a time in the land of sunny days and humid afternoons, there was a house. It was a nice house, with a brand new kitchen. I live in the house. My job is to make it a comfortable place to live for both the people and the animals who share the space. My pets include two birds, two cats, one dog and an untold number of dust bunnies. [Photo L to R: Ewell and Hoppin' John]

For no reason other than that's the way the chips fell, the four-legged animals are all black. The dog, Black Beauty, has a muzzle full of white hair and a blaze of white on her chest. However, in the wee hours of the morning, on the way to the bathroom, it's hard to see the little spots of white. In fact it's hard to tell that there is even an animal sleeping in the hall at all. Suffice it to say black is even blacker when one is half asleep. [Photo L: Him and Her]

Like most of us who live in the house, Beauty is old, perhaps 70 in dog years. She has arthritis in her hind end so she moves kind of slow. Being the only dog, she is also the alpha dog. Or she was until the kittens moved in.

Boy Cat and Girl Cat have not officially been named. Girl Cat, aka Miss Priss, and/or AC (Angel Cat) wears a green collar. This is so we can tell the two cats apart when they go streaking through the room, or which one has a penchant for peeing on the leather couch. Except when it comes to staking his territory, Boy Cat, who has also been called Buddy, DC (Devil Cat) and F*#!*! Feline, is a great big scaredy cat. But, let's face it, if you were a baby kitty who was one day drinking from your mama's bosom with no cares in the world and the next thing you knew you were at the bottom of a well swimming for dear life, I think you'd be a litte skittish too. No doubt the time they spent in the well damaged their socializing skills.

Although stemming from a retriever gene pool, Beauty might have been outside rolling in something stinky when God was handing out brains. When it comes to this particular canine being pretty, loyal, and loving are her most endearing qualities. She is not, however, the smartest of dogs. The good news is that she is the kind of dog that foregoes her own breakfast to sit by the bed of the last person sleeping. Her day doesn't really begin until everyone is awake and accounted for even if this is almost lunchtime. Which would you rather have, a dog that knows how to speak and rollover, a dog that could call 911 if you experienced chest pains, or a dog who wags her tail every time you walk in the door like you are a long lost lover?

Beauty has lived in the house with the brand new kitchen for years. The cats are newcomers. While not exactly friends, the animals have learned to tolerate each other. (With the possible exception of the birds who have not yet learned to appreciate the cats' ability to hang from the bottom of the cage.) The cats know to give Beauty a wide berth while she is eating, and Beauty has learned to share her people with impertinent feline lap jumpers. It would seem that the animals have been able to do what most humans have not yet mastered - how to respect each others' space; cats on one side of the room, dog on the other.

Until yeserday when I happened to notice a certain synergy taking place. A lizard had been spotted at the dining room window and a silent alert sounded. The humans were oblivious to the impending danger. The guardians, however, answered the "all hands on deck" call. Like a finely-trained military team on combat maneuvers, the four-legged commandos instinctively rallied round the window to get a glimpse of the enemy. No matter that the foe in question was all of 2 1/2 inches long and on the outside of the window, the hunters were clearly on a mission of great import.

The land of sunny days and humid afternoons is unquestionably a lizard paradise. While the "Year of the Lizard" is not an actual month on the Chinese calendar, lizards are worthy of some serious consideration. Lizards come in all sizes and colors and rid the world of annoying pesty insects. Like cockroaches, lizards have survived the millenia. Lizards can be arboreal, oviparous and vivparous, and in the case of the chameleon greatly influenced by environmental and emotional stimuli. In other words, they are adaptable and have staying power. A lizard's skin is tough and scaly yet, unlike cockroaches, it is pretty enough to be turned into a pair of Manolo Blahnik pointy-toed shoes. [Photo R: Not the kind of lizard even a commando cat should mess with.]

To the bane of 5 year old lizard catchers, the little buggers are often fast runners, which may or may not have to do with the fact that they have five toes on each foot. Lizards don't take themselves too seriously unless it's mating season. That's when the male of the species takes a break from sunbathing and bug catching to attract the lady lizard of his eye that just happens to have a moveable eyelid. Vigorous headbobbing and inflating the throat to show off his lizardly good looks is the reptilian equilvalent to saying "Your place or mine?"

Some lizards are tiny and green and mind their own business. These are often the biggest vexation to a team of house protectors. Like a U.S. Senator running for re-election, I surveyed with interest the tactical maneuvers and measured their effectiveness. It became readily apparent that Boy Cat was the team leader. He had reconoitered the area, found the enemy, then called for backups. Beauty and Miss Priss moved in quickly and quietly. Except for Beauty's wagging tail, their precison movements were impressive. [Photo L: I know there's a lizard there someplace.]


When it comes to lizard snaring, patience is the name of the game; outwait your enemy and he is yours. I'm not sure if this works for U.S. Marines but domesticated cats come from a long line of waiters. Like a pride of lions lolling around by a Kalahari watering hole, sooner or later dinner is sure to show up. Or in the case of DC and Beauty, the lizard in question is sure to walk into your sights.

There is a lesson to be learned from these intrepid lizard hunters. I am just not exactly sure what it is. But when cat and dog join forces, it could be a glimpse into a world where teamwork abides, coorperation prevails, and homeland security is more than a government agency. Of course the lizard might not have this same view of a world at peace. I think, however, that is why God gave domesticated animals the inside of the house in which to play and reptiles the muti-colored great outdoors.
[Photo L: A somewhat camoflaged lizard]

From the land of sunny days and humid afternoons, I wish for you a life where kittens are rescued, dogs smile and lizards run free.

Merry ME
[Photo L: Going ...]
[Photo R: Going ...]

[Photo: Gone!!!!]




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