the hyphens that define my life

Between a Bear and a Pearl August 30, 2013

Where will you find us?  Between a Bear and a Pearl, at least according to our dog, Dale.  On our block, next door, in fact, live Bear to the West and Pearl to the East. Dale, as usual, has made friends before the rest of us.

Bear is a two year old rambunctious Golden Retriever with a two year old mentality.  He knows commands and how to behave, but he revels in breaking the rules.  He hurdles the low wall between our properties and runs circles around all of us while over-excitedly wagging every part of himself hoping for a pet.  Dale, at 14, is a crotchety old man and tolerates the toddler for a quick sniff and a hair raise then urinates around our yard staking his claim.  As much as Bear whips us joyously into a frenzy, it is sad to really see how old sweet Dale has become.  Dale used to be hyperactive and crazy.  Now he just sleeps most of the day, venturing outside only to take care of his business.

On our eastside, lives Pearl.  Where Bear and Dale, in his youth, are cut from the same wild and crazy kinda guy fabric, Pearl is calm, serene, quiet and obedient.   Pearl is a Goldendoodle but more doodle than golden.  She doesn’t crave attention, doesn’t bark (except her mother claims she barks at the mailman), and doesn’t aggrevate the chickens in their backyard coop.  Even Dale, at 14, would stir the chickens into a tizzy given the chance.

Both of our neighbors smartly only have one pet each.  We, in the middle of sanity, have our own personal menagerie.  Dale, like children, wishes he was an only child, but our philosophy is consistent – if we’re going to be tortured, so are you.  Our pet collection is driven by the love for animals of our own Dr. Doolittle, Niko, our 9 year old.  He loves to learn about animals, be around animals and, if he’s lucky, add to his family of pets.

 So far we have added three cats, litter mates we acquired from Vince’s cousin.  Mittens, Niko’s cat, is our pretty grey girl with white paws.  T-Bone is white and gray with a definitive white T on his side and appropriately, Trace’s cat.  Jerry is the over-anxious brother that picks fights, like his owner Andre, but is mostly content sleeping, not like Andre.  The cats are kept indoors and share the basement playroom with the boys.  They occasionally escape and run upstairs to sleep on the boys beds.  Dale is oblivious to their sneaking about.

Niko, added a Crested Gecko, Camo, to our family in the fall of 2012.  Niko carries him everywhere, on his shoulder or on his hand.  He has been lost twice.  Once, Niko took him to the bathroom with him and put him on the counter and forgot about him when Niko left the bathroom.  Another time, I found Camo in our entry way just cruising through, we’re not sure how he managed to get there.

For Niko’s 9th birthday, he really wanted a snake and got a ball python which he loved.  After a few weeks, sheriff the snake (named sheriff because he would wrap around their wrists and cuff the boys) drowned himself in his water bowl.  Dad couldn’t bear to see Niko’s tears and anguish so he took Niko back to the pet store to get another snake.  Andre tagged along.  Next thing I knew, two baby corn snakes came to live at our house.  They are small and easy for the boys to manage and seem to be thriving.  About a month ago, Niko or Andre left the cage lid slightly ajar and the snakes escaped.  Yes, two snakes were wild and free in our house.  I found one wrapped around the leg of my couch re-upholstery project.    it was broad daylight and I didn’t find him in my bed so I was relieved.  Niko quickly put him in his terrarium.  Andre’s snake, an albino corn snake, remained missing for several more days until Vince found him in the crawl space beneath the house, in the dark by the light of the flashlight only.  Both snakes are contained and well. Phew!

Niko’s love for animals goes beyond dogs, cats, and reptiles.  Niko wanted a bird.  Not just any bird.  He wanted a bird that he could talk to (stab in the heart, no friends in our new neighborhood) and train, hopefully a parrot.  Since I wasn’t ready to take on that kind of project, we convinced Niko to start with a cockatiel.  I suggested a parakeet but Dad is a giver and got him, not one, but two cockatiels, Tropie and Calie.  I call them Lemonhead and Nutterbutter when referring to them as Lemonhead has a yellow head and Nutterbutter has a grey/brown head.  Not only do we have two new pets, we also have an alarm clock, 6:15 every day.

Dale has free roam of the house, though he can’t manage more than a couple of stairs so he stays to the main level.  The cats, as stated, have the basement.  Reptiles are in the boys rooms.  And the birds are in the living room.  Though I still think Dale would love to chase some chickens, he doesn’t seem to mind the cockatiels unless they wake him from his nap and he gets up and leaves the room.

Other than cleaning the cat litter boxes, Niko’s chores are to care for the animals.  He occassionally needs reminding, but he has shown incredible responsibility and care for his animals.

We have now come to our senses, no more kids, no more pets.  Our house is full, with Bear and Pearl as bookends.

Note:  I KNOW this would be a great post to have photos but I’m having computer issues.  Next time…


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