Today’s Chapter is about embracing change, and new souls into our lives. Bailey, the basset hound, represents many changes to Oscar’s day-to-day life, and it seems scary if not unsettling. However, keeping an eye to the ‘big picture’ helps Oscar navigate his way through this time in his life.
Chapter 17—Life Number Eight: Head Pet
Bailey didn’t move in right away. Grandma Brown had to make all kinds of preparations first. Bailey was a dog, and dogs require certain provisions. They are a little neurotic and more high-maintenance than cats. First off, dogs are den animals, so Grandma Brown needed to prepare a kennel, or den, for Bailey. Secondly, Grandma Brown decided to get in front of smelly Bailey’s smell by preparing all kinds of new, sweet smelling bedding for Bailey. Then there was the case of dishes; Grandma Brown also insisted on getting new shiny dishes for Bailey.
Grandma Brown insists that all who come to live with her feel as if they are having a “fresh start.” She would say things like, “Bailey is going to be keeping company with ladies now—so there won’t be any stinky bachelor behavior!” To me, it sounded as if she was holding Pops at least partly responsible for Bailey’s smell. I know Grandma Brown is one wise lady, but I have to say, Pops never smelled quite so bad as Bailey does. At any rate, as “head pet” I took it upon myself to consult with Grandma Brown on all the logistics regarding Bailey’s accommodations. I tested out both the new dishes and the new bedding. Personally, I don’t care for the way dog food smells, but Bailey’s basket was pretty cozy!
Grandma Brown also brought home books for Lolly. She was old enough to read now, and Grandma Brown wanted Lolly to have a hand in Bailey’s care. She felt that it would be good for Lolly to learn how to care for others. I was pretty excited for my girl, after all, being given responsibilities as important as pet care is a big milestone for a little girl! As head pet, I decided it was important for me to help Lolly read her books. I remember, way back when I was living with Brown Grandma and Grandpa, that Cleo and Monty helped Auntie read and study by hanging out, whisker kissing, and sitting on books. I figured that I could do that for Lolly as she studied the ways of the Basset Hound.
Sometimes Lolly read stuff aloud for me to hear. It sounds like Bailey was behaving perfectly normal that time we watched her eat mud. According to what was read to me, Basset hounds are known for eating just about anything. Lolly read me this one story about how a basset hound ate a necktie and the next day, it was pooped out in one whole piece—with the price tag still attached. She thought this story was the funniest thing she ever heard. She ran straight to Grandma Brown begging her to buy some neckties to see if Bailey would eat them. It was at this point, I think, that Grandma Brown began to understand the essential, yet subtle differences between being a “cat” person and a “dog” person.
As for me, I began wishing I paid more attention to Monty’s technique back in the day. I had a sinking feeling that being Bailey’s head pet would be very challenging. According to what Lolly read, basset hounds are different than other dogs in that they often responded to scolding, and authority figures with goofy clownish behavior. I am not sure what that looks like, mind you, but it just didn’t sound very reassuring somehow.
I began to express my concerns to Grandma Brown. I followed her around the house as she did her chores, and meowed and yowled. I reminded Grandma Brown about how stinky Bailey was, how she irritated the Butterfly Man, and how she would mindlessly eat anything. Grandma Brown seemed a little distracted—she didn’t even offer me tuna. She just kept saying things like, “there, there boy—I know…change is hard isn’t it?” Seriously, she didn’t offer me even a scrap of tuna.
I soon realized I was on my own. I decided to sleep on my concerns. Bailey wasn’t using her nice comfy bed just yet, and tuna-less worrying really exhausts a cat. As I drifted off to sleep, I reflected back on the days when I answered to Monty. What I remembered more than anything is that the only times in which Monty was stern was when he was teaching me important lessons about self-respect. All the other times in my dealings with Monty, I was met with kindness, wisdom and honesty. When Monty dealt with Mitzie he was very tolerant and loving. He seemed to understand that dogs were more demonstrative and impulsive. He never got offended or frustrated with Mitzie when she offered slobbery kisses. As I fell asleep, my worries melted away. I realized I was looking forward to Bailey’s company. It had been a while since I was part of a household pet community, and it would be nice to have that again. I began purring because I realized that I would have the best of both worlds: my Lolly, and a fellow pet.