Dog Tired

My mom Cathy is getting frustrated with her caregiving role. She says, “Tiger bounces around just like old times. She just won’t eat enough. She’s so thin and dehydrated.”

I’m not bouncing anywhere. Yesterday we went to the dog park. I stopped for a chat and a butt scratch from some friendly folks. Cathy was not amused. “You’re here for exercise!” she said.

So I ran around so she could catch up on her conversations with the regulars. And then we walked part way home. I am still tired. My mom is too but she will never admit it.

“I refuse to say I’m getting older,” she says. “Sunday and Monday I had two tough exercises classes in a row…all weights and barbells. Who wouldn’t be a little…um…well, not bouncy?”

Hey mom, I’ll jump right in (but not literally). I’ll be six in October and I’m no puppy any more.

Our big mystery: how does that tough old tabby cat jump on to the kitchen counter? She may be on her last paws, but like Mehitabel, there’s life in the old dame yet.

More about my elderly feline roommate

Tiger went to the vet yesterday. My mom returned looking grim. She has to give Tiger fluids. The poor cat is dehydrated.

“I think Tiger has lost her sense of smell, not her appetite,” Mom said. “She’s even backing away from the tuna fish. But she’s very interested in what’s on her plate…and my plate, too.

“Tiger just looks like, ‘I’m hungry! This looks good so I’ll sniff….Oh no! Why are you serving me gravel?'”

Apparently cats use their sense of smell to decide if food is edible. Once it’s gone, they have no clue.

But she will be happy to be proven wrong, if a newly hydrated Tiger starts eating again.

I will be on my best behavior, knowing Cathy has so much going on. But hey, I’m a dog, not a saint. There is a patron saint of dogs but no saintly dogs as far as I know.

So I hope my mom Cathy hides the chewables. And I suspect we’re in for lots of walks while mom is feeling stressed.

Who’s Top Dog In This Household?

What’s wrong with this picture? That’s a 19-year old cat, sitting on her old cushion, looking smug. It’s Tiger, the Queen of our household. cat as top dog

Sometimes I try to play with her. She’s such a grump! She just swats me with her paw and yowls tha raspy meow. Since she’s old, she’s fussier about everything.

My mom ordered a couple of cases of canned food because Tiger won’t eat dry food anymore. I think she’s lost her sense of smell.

Cathy adores Tiger. They’ve been together since spring of 1994. More than some people have been married.

Tiger used to sleep next to Mom’s pillow. Now she prefers to sleep in the closet. But during the day, she likes to sit near my mom.

When my mom works on her laptop on the couch, Tiger sleeps on the armrest next to her. When my mom eats a snack (a lot more often than she should, but don’t tell her I said that), Tiger tries to share.

“When I get old, I want someone to spoil me,” Mom says. “So I’ll spoil Tiger as much as I can.”

How about spoiling me too, Mom? I’m bigger. Double the karma.

Dog Mom Fights Aging Stereotypes

My mom Cathy never identified as a mom till she got a dog. But when she adopted me, she had to find a way to introduce herself when she called the dog lounge, the groomer and all the other handlers we Canine Urban Princesses (CUPPIES) require.

She tried saying, “I’m Gracie’s owner,” but she felt that didn’t do justice to our relationship. Besides, she has a tendency to call the Day Care and Boarding staff to ask, “How’s Gracie doing?” Even Cathy had to admit she was sounding more like a mom than an owner.

So she gave in and began identifying herself as Gracie’s mom. I knew it.

To be fair, Cathy is one of the least maternal people on the planet, male or female. She never adopts kittens or puppies. She never talks baby talk. She expects me to hold up my share of responsibilities, which are always under negotiation.

Cathy can’t even talk intelligently to anyone under 18. “How’s school” is not a great way to bond with a teen-ager.

So she gets irritated with all those books, articles and TV shows featuring white-haired women who become nurturing grandparent types in their later years. She’s not into volunteer work. She wants to keep earning money till the day she dies and she’ll donate to charities so those who are truly maternal can care for others — properly.

“You never see a 70-something woman pecking a keyboard and muttering about her affiliate programs,” she says. “They’re never reading sales reports or testimonials from satisfied clients. They’re always holding children or doing something for others.”

If you want to see my mom in a major freak-out, tell her about the retired people who go on to become greeters at Wal-Mart. She hates those stories.

“So after a life of growth, a graduate education and tons of experience, I’m supposed to look forward to serving burgers at McDonalds or opening doors for people who live my former life? Hah. I’d rather be rewarded for my work and I’d rather do real work. Where are those role models?”

Well, as the canine in residence, my job is to get her as close to a maternal experience as she’ll have in this lifetime. Alas, due to my extensive fan club, I’m often more of a fashion accessory.

“Like living with Paris Hilton,” Cathy sighs. “She has her adoring fans. I just make sure she’s there to greet them.”

At least I keep her feeling young, as she chases me around the dog park and makes sure I get all my walks. As her friend Bill reminds her via phone, “If you didn’t have a dog, you’d be just another stereotype: a single woman with a couple of cats.”

Bill knows how to push her buttons. Cathy pushes hers on the cell phone, initiating a major disconnect.

I think it’s time for another mega-nap. As a midlife dog — I’ll be 6 in October — I embrace the stereotypes. Let sleeping dogs lie. And around this house, I’m usually happy to be seen as a sleeping dog.