There is a pink monkey arm sitting on my desk.

One of my college creative writing teachers used to challenge us with a daily exercise that I still try to occasionally use.  (For you young whippersnappers out there – yes, I still remember those days – I’m not as old as you think.)  She would have us look at our desks, find the first thing that didn’t seem to belong, and write about it.  Now since my desk has everything from art supplies, to technical accessories, to tools and sewing materials, finding something out of place is a little more challenging.  However, there is one item that really doesn’t belong – the pink monkey arm.

Now, for all my animal loving friends, you know me well enough to realize that this isn’t a real monkey arm.  I have six cats, one dog, a fish named Clem, and a visiting puppy – so there is no way I would have a real monkey arm on my desk.  Nope!  This one belongs (belonged?) to a pink furry dog toy.  Since it arrived at our house, it has been very neatly amputated from the rest of the monkey and became a toy independent of its original owner.

In truth, there are a lot of disemboweled, dismantled, disarticulated (like that word – I just had to use it somehow), unstuffed, unhinged, and just plain undone stuffed animals in our house.  Our pit bull, Victor, is a lover of all things soft, furry, and filled with fluff.  Fortunately, he is smart enough to know the difference between a stuffed toy and his kitty friends. For one thing, the kitty friends fight back when they are done being carried around in his mouth.  Oh, don’t worry, they are never in danger from him – trust me, he is ruled by the cats.

It’s possible that what you know about pit bulls you have learned from the cruel, horrible, nasty, mean, may-they-be-strung-up-by-their-nether-parts until the auto-flush toilet apocalypse* dog fighting promoters. Let me try and change your mind by formally introducing you to Victor, our four year old pit bull.  The designation “pit bull” actually refers to more than one breed.  Pit bull breeds share certain physical characteristics and were originally a cross breed between mastiff type dogs and terriers – giving them the speed and strength to take down a bull or bear (not something we really need on a daily basis now.)  This also gave them both the intelligence and the desire to please that makes them the perfect animal for those cruel, horrible, nasty, mean, may-they-be-strung-up-by-their-nether-parts until the auto-flush toilet apocalypse* dog fighting trainers to use in their cruel, horrible, nasty, mean, may-anyone-attending-be-strung-up-by-their-nether-parts until the auto-flush toilet apocalypse* dog fights.  Victor is proof of this.  All he wants to do is please you.  His is not, nor ever has been a fighting dog.  We adopted him from a pit bull rescue out of Delaware (Faithful Friends Adoptions) when he was a puppy.  Our older dog had just passed and our remaining dog, Mela, was in need of a new friend.

Victor was sent home with his little blue blankey that had been in the kennel with him.  It has since been tattered and torn, but still a few hearty pieces, tied into knots, remain.  When we got him home, he was so small that he could be batted around the floor by Yasashii (an 8 pound cat when wet.)  In fact, it was a favorite game for both of them. Now Victor does the batting, but Yasashii is still very much in control.  Somewhere along the way, he started finding little stuffed toys around the house and would bring them to us.  He will meet you at the door with two or three stuffed in his mouth, tail thumping on the floor loud enough to drive the band.  The phrase “get a toy” sends him running in circles to pick up as many as possible.  He then proceeds to shove them at you with his mouth, all sloppy and wet, until the side of your leg is equally sloppy and wet.  The more he likes you, the more toys go into the mouth, the more you need a shower just to clean the slop.  (But oh, I do love it so!)  Over the years, the toys have become so tattered they are just remnants of their former furry shapes – identifiable only by color or a distinctive ear or limb.  Things now brings us full circle to the pink monkey arm sitting on my desk.

I learned a valuable lesson with that arm.  No matter how sweet, intelligent, or docile an animal is, if you play tug with a pink monkey toy, whatever you do next, do not (I repeat DO NOT) put the cleanly amputated pink monkey arm on your finger and pretend it is a puppet.  You may find you have a very cleanly amputated pink finger to sit on the desk next to the arm.  Lesson learned. Writing class is over.  Have a good day.

*See previous blog entry for more information on this inevitable coming.

Victor-and-Meggie

Victor & Nutmeg

Victor-and-Jasper

& Jasper

Victor-and-bella

& Baby Bella

Victor-and-me

& Me

victor-and-yasa

& Yasashii

Victor-and-gabi

& Gabi

Victor-and-mike

& Mike

Victor-small

Yasashii, Gabi, & a Very Small Victor

Let the Curtain Rise

So I’ve decided that my mornings are like being a stage hand in some kind of demented theater production. It starts with a call somewhere between 5:15 & 5:45 in the morning by Mela, our 15 year old German Shepard, affectionately known as the Grumpy old lady. She is often joined by Mamma Charlie, the feline hair, make up, and wardrobe specialist, who vigorously attacks my bed head and an eyebrow or two with her tongue. Enter (sans harness) the Flying Baby Bella. 3 pounds of cat that can control physics enough to make her feel like 30 pounds when she lands square on your stomach. (I have to wonder if I have a target painted on me given the accuracy of her ability to hit dead center of my stomach?) Anyway, the final player in the preset stage is the set dresser Yasa – who is making final touches to the props by systematically knocking everything on the dresser to the floor.

(Stay with me here – we haven’t left the bedroom yet. The play has not yet begun…)

The troupe (all 6 cats, 2 dogs, and one human stagehand) make their way down the stairs to the main stage led by Victor, 60 pounds of pit bull with the attitude of an overgrown puppy. He cues up the drummers in the orchestra with a rhythmic tha thump, tha thump, tha thump down the stairs. (I guess I forgot to mention this was a musical.) Flying Baby Bella, the spoiled brat, must be carried to the stage. I think this is the consequences of an overly doting stage papa. The stairs present their own challenges as Darby Underfoot, the Hobbit kitty, is hiding in stair number 7. Not sure why? God love him, he is one light bulb short in his makeup mirror.

The stairs successfully navigated, the troupe heads to the green room for a quick meal, as you can’t go on stage hungry. The troupe has a number of divas in it. Jasper Goldberg Nevin, requires a special diet that must be fed in a special glass bowl, in a special area away from the other players. (What a special little guy he is). Darby Underfoot shares his diet, but must eat alone. Picky picky picky. Nutmeg Nevin (stage name Meggy Sue) will eat only the finest of the generic soft food, with a side of cream… Someone help me….. The other three feline cast member are less picky and only want the food bowls filled. They are more than willing to help you in any way they can – pushing the lids open with the noses, jumping on your back as you bend over to pick up the containers, and attempting to steal morsels from the divas.

(Ever hear this one? Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.)

Meanwhile, the canine cast members have been let out the back stage door for a quick relief (or smoke break – I’m never really sure). Mela, being the oldest in the cast, does have a few problems and may have left some of them steaming on the floor for me to clean up. Ah, job security! Re-enter the canine contingent, ready for their meal. Here is where I have my only official lines.

Stage left (Victor sits patiently in front of his bowl, drool leaking from his lips. The sound of a quickly thumping tail can be heard in the background)
Ange: Ah hem (sounds of throat clearing). Victor wait….Victor wait…. Victor wait…. wait….wait….WAIT……..Okay. (Releasing the dogs to inhale their…….,and they’re done.)

Quick now, we only have seconds before curtain. A fast check to make sure Mela has made her way to the stage – let Victor out of the green room – Darby has already let himself out (he handles the magic acts.) Meggy Sue is released from her dressing room only to watch her run to my purse to puke her meal up. She must suffer from stage fright. How kind of her to let me know by depositing it directly into my bag.

“Places everyone!!! Where’s Jasper? Who’s seen Jasper? Mamma Charlie? That sock you are carrying belongs to – Hey, who’s missing their sock? Victor – go get daddy. Victor – where’s daddy. Can you take him a toy? Darby! – Move! Oh crap, I forgot to let Jasper out! Okay now, places everyone!”

The curtain rises on a new day. Now,,,where’s my coffee? Exit, stage left.