Pets and Their Own Schedules…

Pets often have schedules that come from their personal inclinations, urges, and habits, especially as they age. It’s interesting to observe the regularity of actions on their parts that can be clocked with frightening dependability.

Riggs is a rescue cat we’ve had for at least ten years, a feline whose vocal abilities as rather a bad singer were probably what prompted his original owners to abandon him. He’s a gentle creature with a  geriatric disposition revolving around his carefully planned schedule each day, a schedule that he alone determines. As Riggs was about five when he was rescued, we estimate his present age to be about fifteen or sixteen.

At six in the morning he begins singing downstairs in order to let everyone know that the day  is supposed to begin, whether or not others in the house are quite yet able even to open their eyes without effort. He expects to be petted immediately and spoken to in a cooing, quiet tone that reassures him that he is still loved. He then scampers down to the sun room, where on an old desk we keep his food and water, above a level the dog is capable of invading. After his breakfast, Riggs greets Dudley, our dog, in a nuzzle with the side of his face (or maybe just using Dudley as a napkin), as Duds stands there patiently, hoping that Riggs has completed his vocal exercises for the day. Next stop for our cat is the camel back sofa in the master bedroom, where Riggs curls up for the rest of the morning, knowing that Dudley won’t bother him, as our dog will never venture upstairs unless there is a thunderstorm, requiring assurance that the world is not about to end.

Around four o’clock, Riggs comes downstairs again for some lap time  while I’m watching Judge Judy on television, possibly rendering him a cat who has been exposed to more legal data than has any other cat in the united States. He’s now broken the record of my sister’s cat, Atticus, who used to watch Perry Mason.

The most active part of Riggs’ day is at almost exactly five o’clock, when he provokes Dudley into chasing him around our open stairway, through the dining room, hallway, and library. This is how the two get most of their exercise, running in that circle every afternoon until Riggs sneaks up three of four stairs to rest quietly, one paw crossed over the other in a decadent display of quietude and to enjoy Dudley’s continuing to run in circles below him. Riggs will usually look at me if I’m nearby and give me a look of profound wisdom and superiority over what he undoubtedly believes is hopeless canine stupidity on the part of poor Duds, who eventually figures out that he has been duped once again by Riggs, who continues to look down on him while Dudley barks his extreme displeasure.

Early evening is the time for Riggs to go to his favorite wing chair in our little library, where he curls up for the night before his next singing performance the following morning.

Dudley’s schedule seems intertwined with that of Riggs, though Dudley feels a deep sense of responsibility in going out to the dog run several times a day to let the world know that he’s on guard duty. Both Dudley and Riggs have magnet sensors on their collars, which allow them to activate the electric pet door in the sun room, which leads out to the dog run and fenced garden. Occasionally both pets can be seen together sunning themselves beside our big blue spruce tree. When one pet is at the vet being groomed or otherwise not around when he’s expected to be, the other will fret. Even when Dudley was a puppy, Riggs was patient with him, never biting or using his claws. It was as though he knew Dudley was really no threat, and that they were both a part of this household, a place that both of these wonderful animals make a home, not just for themselves, but for us humans as well.   JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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