Which dog to adopt? Go with your feelings…

My mom Cathy likes to read books about decision making. She has always been fascinated by career decisions and suspicious of guided decisions, such as juries.

Most recently she was reading a book called How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. Lehrer cites all kinds of research showing that emotions make sense in some kinds of decisions while rational thinking works best at other times. When decisions are complex (such as buying a house), emotional decisions often have better outcomes, my mom says. (Can you tell she’s helping me with this paragraph)

My mom figures that’s how she’s made good decisions about adopting her animals. She cuts past the clutter. All three of us – me, Creampuff and Ophelia – were adopted by default.

Creampuff had been in a cage for three months in New Mexico. The shelter volunteers really pushed for her adoption. “We can’t keep her forever,” they said. Creampuff really wanted to be an indoor-outdoor cat and she’s been a little frustrated by Cathy’s firm belief that cats belong indoors. But she purrs a lot and she’s healthy.

Ophelia was the only spayed, declawed cat in the Seattle Animal Shelter when Cathy went to look. Personally, I think we should have checked out a few more shelters but Ophelia and my mom have bonded. Ophelia’s here to stay.

And then there’s me. My mom saw me on Petfinder, she says. She chose me mainly because I am a female dog who’s not too big. She asked a lot of questions but she took me sight unseen. Thank goodness she didn’t know about my chewing or pulling tendencies.

Luck? Maybe. My mom likes to think she’s just a great owner. Who cares? I just made a big decision to take another nap. That was easy.

Cat seeks refuge from housemates

See this terrific piece of feline furniture? My mom grabbed it when someone was moving out and left it behind. opheliahiding She washed the cushions in our washing machine (thank goodness – who needs fleas?).

Creampuff likes to sit on the top. But our newest housemate, Ophelia, has claimed the lower opening for her very own. She spends hours there, watching the rest of us.

“Better than under the bed,” my mom says. “And better than the laundry room, too.”

You have to look closely but do you see that black and white blur? Yes…that’s Ophelia, fully recovered from liver disease and her traumatic time in the Animal Shelter.

And (in my opinion) winner of the Most Useless Household Animal award.

Our new housemate is sneaky

Now that Ophelia has recovered from her liver disease, and her ears have gone from yellow back to pink, we are discovering her true personality. I tried to tell my mom: this cat should be shipped off somewhere via FedEx. She’s Difficult.

Alas, Cathy and Ophelia have bonded. “She has so much presence,” my mom says. “She has charisma and charm.”

Yesterday Ophelia turned up her little gray nose when Mom put down a delicious serving of crunchies and a spoonful of canned Avoderm. Yum. If my mom drops her guard for a minute, that plate will be empty. But Ophelia just walked away.

Last night Cathy was awakend to the sound of crunching. She was afraid I had invaded the kitchen (if she’d been awake she would realize I can’t jump off the bed without waking her up). When she turned on the light she saw a small furry object, shaped like an aircraft carrier from above, digging in with gusto.

“Aha!” she cried. “Ophelia is a night eater.”

Ophelia tried to protest but her mouth was too full. She’ll be back to 15 lbs. in no time.

Can we send Ophelia back where she came from?

My mom took Ophelia back to the vet on Monday. Ophelia’s lab tests show something is going on with her liver, which is why she’s turning yellow. No surprise there.

Mom came home with instructions for force-feeding, sub-Q fluids, and pills. Then she took me to the dog park. Lindsay, the park steward, is always happy to see us.dog park with lindsay pating gracie

“The new kitty is sick?” Lindsay said. “Does she come with a return guarantee?”

See why I like Lindsay? That woman has great perspsective.

But she was joking and Cathy would never do that. She vowed Ophelia will never return to that shelter. And who else will be such a dedicated cat nurse?

I don’t really mind. When Cathy’s working on Ophelia, she puts me in my crate with a peanut butter kong toy. Yum. Ophelia’s not such a bad idea after all.

Ophelia gets brave

Wow…Ophelia marched right into the living room and took up a position near the sofa. She tried to jump to the sofa arm but couldn’t quite make it. Then she sat on the floor all evening while Cathy worked on her laptop. She growled when Creampuff seemed interested. Creampuff took off.

My mom was thrilled. Frankly, I think observing our cats is like watching paint dry, but hey…what do I know? I have a dog bed in every room and nobody messes with me.

Tempting the kitty…

Dr Jim the cat shrink told Mom to tempt the cats with delicious treats. Alas, the canned food doesn’t stay tempting for more than a single feeding. I suspect she’ll be heading over to Safeway for some generic version of Fancy Feast and maybe some human food in a lower-cost version.cat food in a can

Cathy’s following a diet she downloaded from the Internet. She looks great, but she says, “It ought to be called the Expensive Food diet. Lots of blueberries and salmon and organic produce.”

Alas, I have to go to my crate when Mom tries to tempt the kitties with treats. So far nothing seems to be working. Creampuff seems to have caught on to the game.

“Just a few years ago I was bragging about what great pets I had,” Mom sighs. “And now we’ve got the dog with the delicate tummy and the most neurotic cat on the planet.”

She exaggerates. But not by much.

A visit from the cat shrink

My mom Cathy was eager to hear what the cat shrink would say. “Dr. Jim”turned out to be like Dr. Doolittle. He talks to animals.

He’s awfully smart. He told Cathy more or less what I’ve been saying all along. Ophelia should be living alone with a nice little old lady. Well, he didn’t put it quite like that, but…

An older cat like Ophelia shouldn’t be placed with another cat, he said. But since she’s here, we can try a few tricks. So mom has them in separate rooms as much as possible. She’ll be feeding them delicious treats – but only when they are together. We could give them Prozac. (Prozac?)

No drugs yet, my mom said. She’s going to be rationing out the treats to motivate the relationship.

“After all,” my mom pointed out, “it’s not like Ophelia had a lot of choices. Not many people want a cat who’s 9 years old, overweight, and long-haired. Even little old ladies.”

And what about me? That nice Dr. Jim knows a normal, sane animal when he sees one. He decided I looked like a happy, healthy dog. He complimented me on being so good. Cathy, of course, took all the credit but hey, I can be generous. sleeping dog

Especially since Dr. Jim said I should get more treats.

“When she tries to jump on someone, make her sit and give her a reward. Carry a bag of treats. Give her a treat just for walking right.”

Wow. I love this shrink. He can analyze me anytime.

But I have more important things on my mind. We dogs have our priorities straight.

Mom calls the shrink…

Not for her. She’s far too cheap.

But Cathy is worried about our new housemate, Ophelia. After making progress, Ophelia has regressed. She staked a claim on a corner of Cathy’s bed and she won’t leave. She sits on a cushion, right next to Cathy’s pillow, and she won’t budge. When she freaks out, she dives under the bed. Not good.

So Mom asked the vet for a referral to a cat behaviorist. When Cathy called for her appointment, they said Ophelia might be suffering from shelter shock. Sort of like post-traumatic stress disorder for cats.

We’ve got a PhD-qualified, trained shrink coming next week. He comes to our home and spends a couple of hours analyzing Ophelia. Mom was aghast at the cost till she realized that’s what she charges for a diagostic website makeover session. And she doesn’t even go to clients’ homes.

Hey Mom, I’ve got a better idea. Let’s find Ophelia a home with a nice little old lady, where Ophelia can be the only cat. She can sit on the old lady’s lap and watch the old lady drink tea.

Except, my mom would say, they don’t make old ladies like they used to. And she adores Ophelia. They’ve bonded.

New housemate is taking over

Here’s what happens on a Sunday evening. We’re all tired. Mom’s been working and she moved her laptop to the living room so we could all be together.

Ophelia, our new housemate, got tired of hanging out in the laundry room. So she moved to the closet. And today shedog and cat together scrambled up on the couch. A classic takeover.

And what am I doing? My mom took me on a long walk today. It was very warm. As you can see, I’m exhausted.

Cathy was so thrilled. Our family is coming together again. Ophelia is fitting in.

Cathy’s got a pile of books to read. She’s always looking for books to recommend to her readers, she says. But I know she’s got a murder mystery tucked away for times when she goes brain dead. Which, in my opinion, happens whenever she spends time with the cats. She isn’t crazy about Ophelia’s name but we can’t think of anything else.

cat sleepingAnd where’s our other little family member? Yep…sound asleep on her chair. I told you we were all exhausted. That’s how Ophelia gets away with it.