I am an animal person through and through. My dream, for as long as I could articulate dreams, was to be a veterinarian. When that dream didn’t work out (thanks Organic Chemistry! Ugh). I decided I would just own a lot of animals instead.
So, the day I graduated law school, my husband of two weeks and I welcomed three kittens into our lives. All litter-mates, two orange boys and one black brindled calico girl (coincidentally, did you know that only female cats can be calico? I have “The More You Know” PSA logo and music scrolling through my head now). I bet you’re thinking “three, whoa crazy cat lady!” It’s okay, my best guy friend, Sam, who is a stinking veterinarian now, calls me that every time I mention the cats. Here’s what happened: my husband agreed to a cat after we got married…and he wanted to name it Mr. Oogabooga Steve. I said no way, that’s a horrible name! Then he said, if I’d let him name one Mr. Oogabooga Steve, he’d let me get two! Naturally, I agreed.
My grandmother’s cat had kittens, so we trooped upstate to pick out two. My husband wanted an orange male that reminded him of a cat he had as a kid. I liked the black calico for the same reason. But there was this tiny little kitten, it looked kind of afflicted with feet and a head that were way too large, but he was so sweet. He kept climbing on my shoulder and purring in my ear. I couldn’t decide between him and the calico, so the hubby relented and let me get them both (he didn’t think the runt would make it very long and didn’t want me to be heartbroken when it died). We named the runt after my brother (who also has rather large feet–size 13!–and a big head) so we combined my brother’s name with Sasquatch for Kohlsquatch. Since we got him the day I graduated, his middle name became Esquire. The girl became Chaka Khan because it’s fun to call her like the song from the 80s (I feel for youuu, I think I love youuuu. Here’s the video if you don’t know it. You’re welcome), and my husband decided it was only fair to name one of the cats after his degrees too (Materials Eng and Electrical Eng) so she got Matlee.
They’re all more like dogs than cats. They come when I call “kids!” or whistle, Chaka plays fetch, they respond to commands, and all three sleep in the bed with us (the boys next to me, Chaka next to the hubby). Other than getting a little shaken when we’ve moved, they’ve had a happy, peaceful existence for the last four years…until this past weekend.
See, I’ve wanted a dog for a long time. I had a black lab in college and I’ve missed a puppy dog in my life! My husband finally gave in and gave me a dog for my birthday. We went to several different shelters and looked on Petfinder and finally found one in a nearby shelter we liked. My brother and I picked him up last Friday. He’s a pitiful thing. More like a cat than a dog. He just lays there, doesn’t bark, isn’t hyper, likes to be petted sometimes. The shelter said he was a Gordon Setter mix, but I’m not so sure. His nose looks more like a Collie, but other features are like an Australian Shepherd, or maybe a spaniel of some sort. Regardless, he’s 6 months old, and adorable, and scared. to. death. All he did was lay. He hates doors, doesn’t get the concept of a leash yet, and any sort of loud or sharp noise is life-threatening.
He perked up a bit when we got him home and he saw the yard. We spent the weekend trying to get him out of his shell, but it seems like with every step forward we get two steps back. My brother tried to run and play, but made the mistake of running at him, which freaked him out. Yesterday we got him neutered and babied him all evening. Slowly, he’s coming alive. He came running when I called this morning and chased the ball a bit. It will be a slow process, but I think we’ll get there.
The cats, however, aren’t so sure. Friday afternoon we brought the dog to the back door and let the cats come up at their own pace. They cautiously crept forward, tips of their tails twitching like furry radar. Kohlsquatch was closest and he didn’t like it. Chaka was the most brave. Within minutes she was at my side purring. She didn’t approach the dog, but was close. Oogabooga wanted nothing to do with it. He stayed furthest back. Then he hissed. That set off a chain reaction. Kohlsquatch hissed at Chaka. Chaka hissed at Oogabooga who hissed at Kohlsquatch, who hissed back, who hissed at Chaka, while my brother and I died laughing and the dog just laid there. The funniest thing was, they didn’t hiss at the dog. Then they all ran away and were upset for the remainder of the day. Every time Oogabooga would smell dog on me he’d hiss.
They’re better now. We brought the dog inside last night. Literally brought him in since he’s petrified of doors. (On another odd note, Oogabooga is petrified of socks. I put a video on YouTube of him a few years ago). Kohlsquatch stared. Chaka came really close to him and sniffed. Oogabooga hissed and ran away. He no longer hisses at the dog smell though! Baby steps.
So that’s my big, crazy fur family. Three cats that act more like dogs and a dog that acts more like a cat. I think we’re going to enroll the dog in training courses to help socialize him. We finally decided on his name last night. Atticus Hairyson. Atticus because he’s a literature lawyer and I’m a lawyer who writes literature, and Hairyson after my favorite Beatle, George Harrison.
Here are the cats in their hissing circle. From left to right: Kohlsquatch Esquire, Mr. Oogabooga Steve, and Chaka Khan Matlee.
And here is Atticus Hairyson: