The year is ending. Some things need to change. Sometimes one must take a stand. Be the change. All that.
Tired of the dog (a husky mix with delusions of grandeur) trashing the couch and the boy kitties marking it as their territory every few days, and after endless months of blocking the sofa with boxes, laundry baskets, Japanese screens, welded panels, TV trays, and Panzer tanks, I decide to adopt sterner methods of behavioral modification. Finally, the delivery comes and I craftily place two electronic mats on top of the vinyl cover that is supposed to protect the precious (second-hand) upholstery underneath from teeth, claws, and bodily emissions. This must do the trick.
The scat mat shocks, so i tried to assuage my guilt–and double my chances of aversion conditioning–by buying only a small Scat Mat and covering the larger area with a sonic mat that emits a sound like a smoke detector if any pressure is applied to it. The idea is to firmly but humanely communicate the idea that the sofa is off limits.
Evidence indicates it might be working: many fewer incidents of pee to clean up and no coming home to the vinyl cover pushed aside in a crumpled heap and covered with exfoliated clumps of skin and hair from Pezzini, the pemphigus-afflicted husky. Could this be success?
This morning, we find what the animals really think our new measures. After a night of chills and sweats, I’m trying to sleep. It’s been one of those holiday seasons, entertaining the visiting viruses. It’s raining. Pezzini doesn’t like rain. She is pacing: upstairs, downstairs, upstairs, downstairs. Click, click, click, click, nails resonate endlessly on the ceramic tile and wood floors. The satellite dish cone she constantly wears because of her skin condition echoes at the end of each pass as it scrapes along the wall.
It’s 4:30 am, and I let her out briefly. I put a gate up at the bottom of the steps to break the pattern and encourage her to settle in on her chair downstairs. Maybe now some sleep for me.
Pace, pace, pace . . . pause. Quiet. Ah! I love it when a plan comes together. Makutsi, the cat who likes to curl up by my face is all settled in, one paw gently stretched out to touch my cheek. I can hear Pezzini getting up on the chair. It’s working.
Wait . . . it’s not the chair, it’s BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!! Adrenaline floods every creature in the house. Then the barking! She thinks it’s the doorbell! She sits on the sonic pad and barks at the door while the mat screeches. The cats go crazy. Bang! Something falls downstairs. The gate? Crash! Something falls upstairs. Makutsi freaks out in an explosive rush of get-the-heck-out-of-here, leaping from the bed using.my face as a launch pad.
Tiny scythes slice my mouth. I cry out. my partner is awake now, by the way. After the initial gash of pain, I can feel the warm blood running. I stumble downstairs, blast my vision with the uber-bright lights of the bathroom and see a poster for a slasher film in the mirror. Red water runs down the white sink, as I lavage my already puffy lips with warm water.
Pezzini has decided by this time no one is at the door and has left the mat. All is finally quiet. I assess the damage in the mirror. Not as bad as the amount of blood made it seem. No stitches necessary for any of the slashes or punctures.
Still 2012 has given me a lasting reminder of what happens when I try to change the status quo.