Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tattoo and Piercing


My daughter and I have a Lab—not the functional kind in which you can conduct experiments or discover cures for diseases. It’s not even the kind that retrieves the paper or his dish.

No, ours is a big, yellow one that eats, poops, expels flatus, and sheds. Sure, he’ll fetch a ball, but unlike the neighbor’s newspaper that I’d really like him to fetch, I don’t want the ball, ’cause it gets real slimy.

This Lab has grown accustomed to deer, so he won’t chase them out of our yard. In fact, one day a doe ran after him as he chased his ball on the street. He doesn’t bark or growl at dangerous people, like the Comcast guys or those I date. Only an occasional squirrel earns his attention if he hasn’t gotten enough exercise.

In mid-September 2006, we were in the house while Shiloh sniffed in the backyard. My daughter said, “Mom, I hear a kitten crying.”

“Fox food,” I replied. “Don’t worry about it. We need to get going.” I was on a mission and had work to do.

But right afterward we heard Shiloh utter an unfamiliar sound. “Ahhhroofff!” So we looked out my daughter's bedroom window down at the southeast corner of our yard and saw Shiloh digging toward the other side of the fence.

We immediately dashed down the stairs and out the back door and discovered a sweet, little gray ball of fur meowing. The little feline appeared unshaken by this 75-pound Labrador trying to become a fast friend.

To stop the dog from further under-the-fence destruction and eventually needing a pedicure, I scooped up the kitten, dashed back into the house, and tossed him in the garage.

“You did what?!” you may ask.

Yep! As Pink Floyd would say, a momentary lapse of reason. I needed a kitten like I needed a tattoo—though I’ve seen some pretty nice tattoos, if you consider tattoos nice and don’t mind needles and permanently coloring your skin—but this was an itty-bitty, helpless, four-week-old kitten…and I had always wanted a gray kitten, but I didn’t need one. So I named him Tattoo.

Fast-forward 10 months and picture the dog digging toward the other side of the fence in the same location. But this time imagine a freaked-out animal with longer fur and nails not wishing to become acquainted. He hissed and growled like a rabid ex-boyfriend.

And then I heard myself use multiple F-words.

“Fox food. Those feral felines all need to be fixed.”

In the neighbor’s woodpile cowered a little hairball bearing a strong resemblance to Tattoo, but there was no way this one wanted to be scooped up. Wild and ravenous, he was probably viewing me in sections for future meals. Placing my hand near him could’ve been the end of my career.

For a few days, my daughter and I leaned over the fence to set food and water down for him. Our thanks came from under the logs as hisses and growls.

Then one day he was gone. Relief whooshed over me, knowing I’d have one less thing to think about. And with a satisfied smile, I thought to myself, fox food.

We live in a pretty tight neighborhood, always looking after each other and our homes, so the call shouldn’t have surprised me too much.

“Hello, Miss Eartha!” my sweet galfriend across the street sang over the phone. “I found a skin-and-bones little kitty in my garage…,” and I didn’t hear much after that.

Fiddlesticks! I thought. Where are those foxes when you need them? “Sure, I’ll take him,” I heard someone who sounded like me say. My daughter was elated. I needed another mouth to feed like I needed a piercing.

Itty-bitty kitty hissed and growled, but rubbed lovingly against Tattoo, who licked Piercing as though they were long-lost siblings, and they really were, one year apart.

So Tattoo, the Royal Fuzzhead of the House, is majestic and gorgeous. He ensures through his presence that anyone or anything must step over him, for he will not move when he is comfortable. And Piercing is still scared of me, the person who feeds him.

And Shiloh? Well, he eats, poops, expels flatus, and sheds, just like my ex-boyfriend.

Anyone need a Tattoo or Piercing? They’re fixed.

copyright © 2007 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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