February 21st, 2006 by Potato

It’s strange to come home and not have any animals to greet.

Unfortunately, the degu died this weekend. It was a little sad, but hardly tragic: for a rodent, he was downright ancient. While he was pretty sick on his last day, and a little slow and wobbly the last few weeks, he didn’t suffer. And the whole way, he’s had Wayfare looking after him; and as a small fluffy animal, you won’t ever find yourself in better care. Of course, she was quite attached to him, and is very broken up about it. So I’ve loaned her the kitty to serve as a feline grief counsellor.

She’s good at that. She’ll start by sneaking up and kneading your shoulders a bit, then maybe lean in and tell you a secret to make you feel better. Of course, her whiskers tickle your ear, but that’s all part of the therapy.

So it’s strange not having her around. I keep checking my closet to see how she’s doing, and of course she’s not there. There’s a little home-made kitty bed in there consisting of a towel in an up-turned box lid that’s got enough shed hair to make up two or three other cats. Of course, she’s not there, nor waiting behind my chair to get her tail smooshed when I roll back. I suppose in a few days I’ll be used to it, and not know how I dealt with a cat underfoot all the time, and then I’ll have to get used to her all over again when I get her back next week.

We’ve almost always had a pet of some sort in my family, though we haven’t had much luck with them. We got a dog when I was fairly young (5?), but he was run over by a bus just a few years later (the one time the Willowdale bus did come). Then there were a few years without pets, followed by a few hamsters. Around that time, we also got a “hand-me-down” dog from a friend of my parents who was moving into an apartment that didn’t allow pets. He wasn’t used to kids, and took a while to settle down (he was a little nippy at first), but eventually we became best friends, and he slept on my bed every night. Unfortunately, he bit another young kid a year or so later, and my parents put him down. Then, aside from a pile of gerbils, I didn’t have any pets for a few years on end, and that seemed fairly normal. We always planned on getting another dog, but the deal was my dad had to quit smoking first… unfortunately, that didn’t happen until he got the big C wake-up call.

We got my cat near the end of high school, on vacation in PEI. She was a little older than you usually get a kitten (about 6 months), a purebreed Himalayan. The combination pet store/vets office where she was couldn’t sell her: probably not too surprising on an island where a barn full of free kittens is never more than a 10 minute walk away. One of the girls who worked there was going to adopt her if she couldn’t find a home in a few weeks. My mom and my sister were smitten instantly, and came back to the cottage to get my dad for permission to get her. My dad was in the middle of a conference call with clients in Toronto, and kicked everyone but me out for silence (I was just reading a book). My sister kept tapping on the window and bugging him and trying to tell him about how cute she was. Eventually, he took a pad of paper, and wrote in giant letters “FUCK OFF” and stuck it on the window. My mom, brother, and sister took that as permission and went to get the cat.

I, actually, wasn’t a fan of the idea. I was strictly a dog person, never really got along as well with cats. Plus, I still had hope that we could get my dad to quit smoking and get a pet “legit”, whereas getting one now would remove some of the motivation to quit. Oddly enough, the cat really took to me, I think largely because I left her alone (mostly) while she was getting adjusted to the new place. Apparently she didn’t take it very well: reports have her as being this very social, adventurous cat when she lived in the pet store, and she was allowed to roam it freely and greet customers (unlike the other cats who lived in the typical pet store cages). As soon as she moved in with us, she became this paranoid little ball of nerves that we know and love today. So anyway, I think she took to me partly because I gave her a chance to come see me on her own terms, and partly because I was the only one up late at night when she was active and adventurous.

Shortly after that, we got Courtney, our first bull dog. She was such a sweet, loving, hungry dog, who died far too young after a panic attack. Then, on Christmas eve just before I moved to London, my parents got Millie, our next bull dog. She’s a crazy hyper dog that doesn’t know when to quit. She made it a sport to chase my cat, whose nerves just couldn’t handle it, so I secreted her away to live with me in London around February that year. For a long while I took her back with me every weekend to visit, but she just didn’t like car rides (often peeing in her cage). Soon enough, my parents got another cat, a giant, loping ragdoll named Oscar. Oscar didn’t really like my cat, so the visits home for her got rare in a hurry. I can tell she misses me when I leave her alone for a weekend now, but I’m glad she manages to handle herself ok. One advantage to a having a cat over a dog :)

I know how much pet owners like to go on about their pets, since they’re so cute and all, but I really should cut the pet stuff out now…

Anyway, things have been busy at work on this end. Looks like we’re finally getting the ball rolling forward again in terms of finishing the blasted MSc… and I’ve also started training for a potential PhD project. It involves MRI, so that’s kind of good, as it gets me away from some of the absolute crap I’ve had to deal with in proteomics. However, it’s also going to be really tough, since that’s a part of my brain that hasn’t seen action in over two years. What’s an integral, and how do I derivitize again? In 3-D you say?

3 Responses to “Pets”

  1. Ben Says:

    Ha! Two years? I started grade 12 math again on Monday using a part of my brain that hasn’t seen action in NINE years!!! Trig-oh-no-met-ry? Wha? The only Greek letters I understand are fraternity names!

    A 1.3m pendulum swings through a total horizontal distance of 1.0m. Through what angle does it swing? Use a diagram to illustrate your answer.

    W T F????? I think there’s a reason I didn’t pass back when I was actually in grade 12 either…

    PS, is the answer 37.6 degrees?

  2. Potato Says:

    Actually, I think it’s 45.2.

  3. Ben Says:

    OK, I get it now!