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Stray Smiles: Family pets are fighting like cats and dogs

Date published: 9/3/2010

WE ALL HAVE those special companions in our lives. The furry ones that hog our beds at night and the ones that follow us around, whining loudly until they get fed. The ones who dig giant holes in the backyard for apparently no reason and the ones that scratch our furniture to bits just to relieve whatever tension their day must have caused them. Yes, our pets.

My family has always had pets around of various species. My brother and I covered all of the bases for stereotypical childhood pets--fish, hamsters, the family dogs. We soon ventured on into the realm of hermit crabs and guinea pigs, our tastes in animals growing more exotic as we matured.

There was even a brief stint with saltwater fish or at least I think they were saltwater. Regardless, I didn't give them salt, or a filter to pump oxygen into the water. Within the week, they were buried in the fish grave in the garden, and the 10-gallon tank was added to the pile of old pet furniture that gathers dust in the garage.

One species had never crossed our threshold, however--the feline.

My mom has always been allergic to them, so we had never had an indoor kitty friend. A stray cat adopted us several years ago, but she lives in our garage, happier in the outdoor world of chasing butterflies and snoozing in the sun.

A few months ago, we begged and pleaded until the parents agreed to let us bring a cat into the family. We adopted a 1-year-old, nicknamed Bu, from the SPCA, hoping that all would go well.

For my mom, it did go well. She continued to take her springtime allergy medicines, bought allergen air filters and pet dander shampoo, and took one for the team, adapting to having the cat around. She is truly a trouper of a woman.

For Ted, our poor yellow Lab, it was a whole different story.

We had all been hoping, in our naive, idealistic way, that the cat and dog were going to instantly befriend each other.

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