It’s a puppy thing

Three years ago this week, my husband and I drove up to the high desert and adopted this adorable creature our daughter named Waffles. At the time, she was going through anxiety and we felt this puppy’s unconditional love and enjoyment would benefit her. Some questioned whether a college student could handle a pup, but we did our best to train him for a few months before she took him to school. We did our research and learned that pugs are the perfect “apartment dogs” because they sleep all day when their owners are gone at work or school. 

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Waffles, our 12-week old pug.

I think we bit off more than we can chew! We thought it would be nice for our daughter to have a companion in the form of an animal. She’s out of state in college and busy with academics plus D1 swimming, and we thought a puppy would bring a lot of joy and fun into her daily life.

She asked permission of her landlord, and even though her lease says “no pets,” he agreed to a small dog. We decided the puppy would be a present for Christmas.

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Waffles turns into a pancake when I try to walk him.

Our daughter wanted a pug and thinks they are so cute. They are. I’ll agree to that. We looked into suitable breeds, and besides the two negatives of snoring and shedding, pugs appear to be an easy going breed requiring very little care.

But the puppy thing. I’m on day five and I think puppy is winning the battle. It’s like having an infant again. I have to watch him constantly. He doesn’t sleep through the night, and when he’s crawling on his belly through the yard, I never know what is going to end up in his mouth. I knew we were in for trouble when we drove Waffles home for an hour and a half drive. He was squirming all the way, nipping and licking my neck and fingers. Finally, as we drove into town he fell asleep. That’s what my son would do in his car seat during long drives.

I’m crate training, potty training and my daily life suddenly got very busy and tiring. Why we think our daughter can handle this is beyond me. Of course, she does have youth on her side. And Waffles is so darn cute!

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Olive the cat is not sure about any of this. What did we do???

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I write about Waffles

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What makes people happier? Dogs or cats?

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Olive

I’m a cat owner. My cat is Olive and she’s going on eight years. We got her when my son left for college, because he’s allergic to cats. Olive is really my daughter’s kitty, but she didn’t take Olive to the snow in Salt Lake City during college, even though she’d do well with all her fur and polydactyl paws. We figured Olive likes her life here and I don’t think she’d do well to move to a new house. So, Olive remains my only pet now. I like it that way.

In an article by Christopher Ingraham called “Dog owners are much happier than cat owners, survey finds” published in the Washington Post, he quotes lots of statistics that basically say that there’s little difference between pet owners and non-pet owners, but a huge difference in happiness between dog and cat lovers.

The well-respected survey that’s been a barometer of American politics, culture and behavior for more than four decades finally got around to the question that has bedeviled many a household.

Dog or cat?

In 2018, the General Social Survey for the first time included a battery of questions on pet ownership. The findings not only quantified the nation’s pet population — nearly 6 in 10 households have at least one —they made it possible to see how pet ownership overlaps with all sorts of factors of interest to social scientists.

Like happiness.

For starters, there is little difference between pet owners and non-owners when it comes to happiness, the survey shows. The two groups are statistically indistinguishable on the likelihood of identifying as “very happy” (a little over 30 percent) or “not too happy” (in the mid-teens).

But when you break the data down by pet type — cats, dogs or both — a stunning divide emerges: Dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they’re very happy, with people owning both falling somewhere in between.

Dog people, in other words, are slightly happier than those without any pets. Those in the cat camp, on the other hand, are significantly less happy than the pet-less. And having both appears to cancel each other out happiness-wise. (Since someone’s bound to ask, it isn’t possible to do this same type of analysis for say, rabbit owners or lizard owners or fish owners, since there aren’t enough of those folks in the survey to make a statistically valid sample).

These differences are quite large: The happiness divide between dog and cat owners is bigger than the one between people who identify as middle and upper class, and nearly as large as the gap between those who say they’re in “fair” versus “good or excellent” health.

However, correlation doesn’t equal causation, and there are probably a number of other differences between dog and cat owners that account for some of the differences. The General Social Survey data show that dog owners, for instance, are more likely to be married and own their own homes than cat owners, both factors known to affect happiness and life satisfaction.

Previous research on this topic yielded mixed results. In 2006, the Pew Research Center found no significant differences in happiness between pet owners and non-pet owners, or cat and dog owners. However, that survey did not distinguish between people who owned “only” a dog or a cat, and those who owned “either” a dog or a cat, potentially muddying the distinctions between exclusive dog and cat owners.

2016 study of dog and cat owners, on the other hand, yielded greater happiness ratings for dog owners relative to cat people. It attributed the contrast, at least in part, to differences in personality: Dog owners tended to be more agreeable, more extroverted and less neurotic than cat owners. And a 2015 studylinked the presence of a cat in the home to fewer negative emotions, but not necessarily an increase in positive ones.

We’ve always had dogs, too, but currently are empty-nesters as far as the pups go. My daughter has Waffles the pug, who I get to babysit occasionally. I raised him from puppyhood for several months until she was able to come home and take him.  It’s kind of what I think grand-parenting will be like. I love having Waffles around and then I miss him when he’s gone. But, I don’t miss the daily responsibility.

Growing up we had big dogs. Golden retrievers, a doberman, German shorthair pointers and a yellow lab. As an adult, my husband and I got Natasha as a gift from good friends. She was a rottie and a housewarming gift for our first home. That was before kids and she did make us happy. She was our baby.

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Natasha and my kids

Next pet was when someone found a kitten in their car engine on their way to work, and I ended up taking the poor sweet kitty home. That was Peabody, our second pet named for the cartoon series Rocky and Bullwinkle. Next came Sherman, who was a black cat that lived with us from kitten-hood to 17 years old when she wandered out of our yard and got attacked by the neighbor’s dog. Ugh. After we said good-bye to Natasha, we got Angus from Guide Dogs of the Desert. (I wrote about Angus here.) Angus lived until the ripe old age of 15.

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Angus and Sherman

It’s so hard to say good-bye. It’s not fair that our pets live such short lives. I have two friends that lost their best friends in the past few weeks. One lost Beckham, her Aussie and another lost her glorious golden last week at eight years old. My heart grieves for them both.

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Lola (RIP) center, with Waffles and Gracie.

What is your opinion on dogs versus cats? Do you have either or both and do they make you happy?

 

A strange week, cat-wise

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Our quiet cat Olive.

I have learned that it’s not a good idea to put out dry food for a stray cat. Do you know what happens? More cats appear out of nowhere! Just like that! Who knew?

It all began on Wednesday when my dear friend from Snohomish came over with her Cabi clothes. (Cabi is Carol Anderson By Invitation, a shopping experience where you invite your friends into your home to try on outfits with a ‘stylist’ who helps you put together outfits.) For the past few years, Tonja, who is a top notch Cabi stylist—top 10 in the nation, top notch—has come from our hometown to my house and I’ve co-hosted parties with a friend. I love the clothes BTW. And this year’s Spring 2019 Collection is inspired by the colors of Palm Springs.

Wednesday night, Tonja and her husband, dropped off the clothes for the Thursday night party. We set up two clothing racks in our living room and off they went to their hotel. Our door was open and Loud Mouth Cryer Cat walked right in, like he/she owned the place! We have never seen this cat before in our lives, but honestly, you hear this cat well before you see it. Our kitty Olive, who barely knows how to meow (it’s more of a muffled “meh”) stood and stared. They stood and stared for about 15 minutes with this new creature crying in a loud guttural voice from under the clothing rack. The sound of nightmares!

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Come on in, don’t wait for an invite, Cryer Cat.

I tried something crazy. I shut the back door and Cryer Cat was locked inside. He/she promptly went nuts and ran straight up the wall caterwauling (cat-er-walling?) for the few seconds I had the doors shut. Then she ran out as soon as there was an opening. I felt sorry for the kitty, although he/she looks well fed. I put out some dry cat food outside the back door.

Cryer Cat cried and cried. This went on from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. nonstop. Ugh. He/she found a particularly comfortable spot to cry right outside our bedroom window.

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A Cabi cat stand-off.

The next day, I noticed the small dish of cat food was empty. I refilled it. A few hours later, I heard the crying again. So, I went outside to see if I could find the Cryer Cat. No luck. Instead, there was a large well-fed black and white cat at the food bowl. Olive cat stood a few feet away, staring. I heard Cryer Cat mewling around somewhere, along with other unidentified meowers. Maybe this idea of feeding a stray cat because i felt sorry for it, wasn’t such a good idea. I can just imagine what my yard would look like after a few more days of putting out food.

My daughter is coming home with Worldwide Waffles. She assured me there would be no more stray cats willing to risk our back yard ever again. I’m just hoping Olive doesn’t give up on us, too.

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Waffles chases cats for sport.

If you’ve put out food for stray cats, how did it work for you?

That time my son gave away the family cat on Facebook

Five years ago, people called me up and texted to say they’d take the cat. I didn’t know we were getting rid of Olive! My own dad told me that my son had written a lengthy post on FaceBook about how we had to get rid of the cat. He is highly allergic, and we got kitten Olive after he left for college. But, he has barely been home since. Perhaps the cat is one reason why! Here’s my second post ever which details the time my son tried to give away Olive.

Robert’s asthma and allergy aBaby Oliveppointment–on his first day home from college for his four-week Christmas break–didn’t go well. The doctor said we could get rid of the cat or put Robert up in a hotel for four weeks.

We’ve only had baby Olive for a year. We’re not too attached, but still. She’s a member of our family. We rescued her from a local pet shelter and committed to be her loving family. And she’s Robert’s little sister’s cat. Not mine. I felt before we agreed to give Olive away, we needed to discuss this with little sis. Or, let Olive be an outdoor cat. We could give that a try! She’s in and out all the time.

I heard that Robert had posted on Facebook for a new home for Olive. Of course, as his loving mother, I’m filtered from seeing his posts. Grandpa, on the other hand, has full access to Robert’s FB account. He told me about the long and lengthy post about how I love the cat more than my own son. Short and shorter: we needed to get rid of the cat. Several people had said yes to adopt the furry feline.

Am I a terrible mother for not wanting to give away our pretty little kitty, Olive Bear?

Robert said I’m infected with Toxoplasma gondii and I’m in danger of turning into a crazy cat lady. I “googled” the toxo thing. It’s different than cat scratch fever, which can cause chills and a fever. T. gondii is a protein that invades your bloodstream and makes women crazy about cats. Or, it makes men crazy in a wild way. And there’s a link to schizophrenia. It’s why my OB GYN told me not to change the litter box while I was pregnant. However, he said that if I’d been around cats my entire life, most likely I was already infected. Great.

 I know about crazy cat ladies.We had one in my home town. She lived in a house filled with felines and feces. Hundreds of cats. My parents drove me to her house out in the country a few miles from town. The home badly needed paint and had broken floorboards with cats leaping in and out of the foundation. We picked an adorable calico kitten named Pansy to bring home. Pansy died a few weeks later from feline pneumonitis

I never had good luck with cats. I can name the ones we owned when I was young: “Ting, Tack, Tenni-runner, No Name, Thomasina I, Thomasina II, Little Leticia, Bianco, Streshia, OJ Simpson. We lost these cats (in addition to the aforementioned Pansy) by the time I reached first grade, due to an overzealous cat-hater neighbor. He caught them in a wooden trap, dropped them in a gunnysack, then tossed them in the river.

When we moved out into the country I had Soute´from second grade through high school. Coyotes and bears were kinder animals to our kitty than our former neighbor in town.

babyolive2 I was pregnant with Robert when we adopted Sherman. That allergy doctor told me for years to get rid of Sherman. I didn’t. Robert was allergic to lots more things than cats. Things I couldn’t control, like rye grass and oak trees. Sherman lived from 1992 until Obama’s inauguration day — don’t let me get started — when the neighbor’s dog jumped a wall and killed him. 

I know it’s terrible not to want to get rid of the cat. I never believed that a cat could be harmful to my child. Now, my son is living in beautiful Santa Barbara, going to college.
He’s only home for visits. Or maybe it is the toxoplasmosis that let’s me rationalize all this.

If you have suggestions on how to keep a cat when you have family members with allergies, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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Five years later, we have lived through the dilema of an allergic son and owning Olive the cat. When he’d come home for a weekend, I found a discount for a hotel a few blocks away. He got his fresh air and we kept the cat. Eventually, before he’d visit, I’d clean the house from top to bottom and made the kitty stay outside. This year, I invested in a heavy duty air filter and we can stay all together in peace. 

What would you do if your kids were allergic to your pets?

Our first day of summer vacation made me want to stay home

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The beach in Summerland near Santa Barbara.

The day we were leaving to visit our dear friends in Carpinteria, I got a text from one of them: “I am going in for emergency surgery to have a stent put in. Sorry to ruin the weekend.”

I’m like, “WHAT?” We were packing the car ready to embark on a week’s vacation with family and friends in the Santa Barbara area. I called my girlfriend immediately after I tried to make sense of her text. She answered in a weak, raspy voice and explained that in the morning she had been at the gym (she’s a health nut, works out all the time, rides her bike 60 miles and only eats healthy) and she passed out. They called an ambulance and rushed her to the hospital. She was headed into surgery when I called her on her cell. It turned out that she had a stroke and a blood clot landed in her carotid artery.

Talk about a jolt! I was terrified for her. How can one lead such a healthy life—and then something like that happens to you? The good news is she’s been released from ICU and the hospital altogether. A week later you’d never know that she underwent such a harrowing ordeal. She’s so fortunate she wasn’t on a bike ride when it happened, or working in her house alone. The stroke happened when she was surrounded by people and she got treatment immediately.

Later the same day, we got another phone call about a family member’s major car accident. After, that another health scare about another family member. Then to top it off, my cat got sick and she had to go to the vet. What else could wrong on the day you’re leaving on vacation?

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Father and daughter on a beach walk.

I turned to my husband and asked if we could postpone our vacation. I had no desire to leave the safety of my home. What’s the point of vacation anyway if all you’re doing is worrying about your loved ones?

We stayed home that night and I calmed down. I reflected on how fragile life is and how you never know what’s in store for you. I’m so thankful everyone survived that awful day and that they are all safe and sound. Then when we finally went on vacation, I treasured every moment I shared with my friends and family.

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Waffles at the beach

What are some of the most unplanned and crazy moments of your vacations?

When the scaredy cat has had it

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Olive the cat.

Things have changed on the homefront. Olive cat has decided she’s had it. She’s no longer putting up with being locked in the guest room or our master bedroom. She’s not going to cower and run with fear when the Waffles the pug comes near her.

In fact, she’s no longer slinking under furniture hiding from Waffles. Instead, she’s walking by, tail high swishing back and forth. It’s like she’s trolling him.

There have been a few chases but they don’t end up well for Waff. He makes his move, she runs, stops, turns around and holds her ground hissing and spitting.

Yesterday, I was sitting down with the kitty Olive rubbing my legs, asking for a scratch around the ears when Waffles appeared. Waffles stopped short of us and stood staring about five feet away. Olive stared back for several moments. Then, out of the blue, she charged full speed, spitting and hissing ripping at his face with her claws.

Someone has changed from the scaredy cat to the alpha boss. Waffles is like “Whoa!” in his best Owen Wilson impression.

It will be interesting to see if these two can become friends before Waffles’ extended visit is over.

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Waffles the pug.

How have you introduced a new animal into your family?

Why can’t they get along?

 

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Waffles graduation pic.

I’m babysitting my daughter’s pug Waffles while she’s off visiting her brother and then studying abroad in Paris and Rome. I have him under my wing until August when she moves to Arizona and takes Waffles with her. He’s a sweet little guy without much fuss or muss, most of the time.

But, we also have Olive. Olive is a seven-year-old cat, who looks suspiciously like a Maine Coone. When my daughter was a sophomore in high school, my daughter adopted the young kitty from the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Olive has become my cat and I’m pretty attached. She’s a pretty lame hunter, and mostly goes after worms and bugs.

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Olive Bear.

The problem is Waffles and Olive don’t get along. Waffles is not quite two years old and likes to chase. Olive used to run. Then Olive would stay outside and wouldn’t come back until Waffles left. It wasn’t a long time, like a week of being an outdoor cat, while our daughter was home for Christmas or Spring Break. But now it’s going to be three months. I don’t want Olive to run away for good.

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Waffles picture on “We Rate Dogs.”

Olive has changed her behavior to hissing and whacking at Waff. But it doesn’t intimidate Waffles at all and he gets quite growly and barky. He has a big personality and gets right in her face. It escalates quickly and gets noisy and rough. I don’t understand why they just can’t get along.

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My pretty kitty Olive.

 

Do you have any advice for getting a seven-year-old cat and two-year-old pug to become friends?

 

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My favorite graduation picture of my daughter and Waffles.