©2000 Bonnie Wren
Sophie and I pet-sit each other's animals. Not only do we save ourselves money on kennel fees, we also maintain a sacred vow: if either of us should die while on vacation, the other will hire a cleaning team, hose down the house and fold the laundry before grieving relatives claim their inheritance.
You can't pay a kennel for that kind of service.
On the first day of Sophie's last vacation, I began my routine. I dropped her house key on the kitchen table, let the dog out, hunted for hairballs, emptied the litter boxes and refilled the food and water bowls.
Then I looked for Bones, Sophie's ancient cat.
In people years, old Bones was about 158. She needed a pill every day to keep her going. No problem for me—I'd given plenty of pills to pets in my lifetime. It had been good practice for squirting Tylenol down toddlers' throats.
I found the cat upstairs, under Sophie's bed. Bones looked at me and meowed.
I reached for her.
She stopped under a dresser and stared at me. I squatted down and crept toward her on my haunches. It was killing my thighs but the cat seemed to be rendered immobile by the sight.
Success! I picked her up and carried her downstairs.
I found the pill bottle and made a mental note to remember next time to open the childproof container before I picked up Bones.
Finally, with the pill in hand I put Bones on the washing machine and opened her mouth.
Then Bones got a whiff of the pill.
She made a break for it. Caught off guard, I grabbed empty air. Bones high-tailed it up the stairs with me in hot pursuit.
I found her behind the toilet in the powder room. Blessing all the gods that Sophie's toddler son was still unwilling to aim into anything other than a diaper, I moved closer.
Cornered, Bones seemed to accept her fate. "Meow," she said resignedly.
I reached for her and she took off. It was a trick!
I couldn't hear her but I knew she was chuckling at my stupidity. She ran and hid between some storage boxes under the guestroom bed. I grasped her back legs and she slid right out, her declawed paws scrabbling desperately to get a grip on the carpet.
She glared at me. I wrapped her up in an afghan and carried her downstairs once more. She acted calm, as if she'd given up, but I wasn't about to fall for that again.
Instead I slipped and fell on a hairball on the hardwood floor.
Somehow I managed to hold onto the cat, which no longer pretended to be docile. Sweating and breathing hard as I clutched the squirming cat, I got to my feet, determined more than ever to finish the job.
Bones was still my prisoner.
I grabbed the pill.
Her eyes went wild and it was a struggle. She tried to bite but I only got a scratch off her bicuspids. The brawl ended when I finally got the pill down her throat and she swallowed. I let her go and caught my breath.
Man, this was going to be a long week.
When I picked up the house key to lock up I found a little piece of notepaper on the table I hadn't noticed earlier.
"Dear Bonnie. Don't worry about giving Bones her pill today—I did it this morning before I left. Thanks! Sophie."
Bones exhausted the last of her nine lives on February 16, 2001.
Rest in peace, Bones. We'll never forget you.
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©2003 Bonnie Wren. All Rights Reserved