Everyone Evan and Vivian know has been acquiring pets like the flood is about to come. Vivian’s best friend has a dog, as do each of her three other siblings. It’s been raining cats and dogs at Evan’s friends’ homes. His cousin got three kittens. Several months ago, I think it may have been in Athens, a city overrun by cats, the kids started asking for pets. I casually said, sure – after we finish traveling. Because that seemed far away. Jo was less comital. Then, in Puerto Varas, the very last place we visited before CoVid forced us to abandon traveling prematurely, we found Mocha – our neighbor’s dog who adopted us. She was such great company, we felt like we could actually live with pets again.
I’ve grown up with dogs in India and Jo with cats. In Austin, except for a short stint with dear Stevie, a blind cocker spaniel that I didn’t (couldn’t) give back after my fostering responsibilities were done, I’ve been a cat person – Socrates and Abe and Crazy. Vivian wanted a dog. Evan a cat. Jo rightly pointed out that now is a good time. We’re all stuck at home and no one’s got to be anywhere.
So on Monday we drove an hour and a half to Poteet to meet Katie, the rescue lady. She met us with Ouiser in her arms. We had all agreed beforehand that we’d politely say no thank you if we thought it wouldn’t work (or if Ouiser’s profile pic, like a Tinder photo, looked nothing like her). It took one one second to say yes.
So Ouiser (pronounced Weezer, named by Katie, the rescue lady, after a character in Steel Magnolias) said goodbye to Nellie the Sheep and got in the car with us. She had thrown up before we got back onto I-35. Vivian thought it smelled like seaweed, one of her favorite snacks. And Jo didn’t mind that the dog had thrown up in her car where the kids aren’t even allowed to eat or drink. So I knew Ouiser was going to be OK. And in the minutes after we got back home she melted our hearts with her frowny face and puppy dog eyes and her floppy puppy ears and her disjointed puppy walk. We bathed and walked her, fed her, and Vivian and I set up a rotation for her to be taken out at night to wee wee.
We woke up to sweet Ouiser next morning and that afternoon the kids and Jo drove off to pick up the kittens from Cindy, Nicolle’s friend. They returned with two tiny kittens (Ouiser isn’t small – at 13 weeks she tips the scales at a robust 25 lbs). Evan named the calico Skittles and the black and white one Zeus. I fully understand why cat videos rule the internet.
Jo set up the laundry room for Skittles and Zeus with their own baby gate that they can get through but it keeps Ouiser out. The kittens are adorable individually and utterly captivating together.
It’s been four days now with our new extended family. The good news is that no one has eaten or injured anyone else. There’s one roll of toilet paper missing, which was chewed up by Ouiser when we weren’t looking. Precious as TP is, we are grateful for the limited property damage so far.
As I type this blog, the kittens are playing around my computer. Before that Zeus was taking a nap on my feet. In a few minutes I’ll go take Ouiser outside for her first night break. Life has gotten messy. But in a chocolate sundae kind of way where messy isn’t bad. Not since Crazy went off to meet her maker back in the summer of 2016 has the pitter patter of animal feet graced our lives. And we are thankful.
At least for now.