Attention pet owners!

Don’t let your animals get word of this, but you’ve missed all the big celebrations this year. National Pet Week was the first week in May, and National Dog Week was the last week in September.

In our household, though, we have found that every week — no, make that every day — seems to be centered on 4 1/2-month-old Emma and Hannah, our 5-year-old Great Dane, not to mention our cats.

I’ve heard it said that caring for a pet keeps you young, but I am beginning to wonder if it doesn’t age you prematurely, at least during the early months of their lives.

To be honest, I must admit that things have been going well in the matter of housebreaking Emma, a mixed breed pup we adopted from the animal shelter. Either we have succeeded magnificently in getting across the message of continence, or she has done a marvelous job in training us to get her out the door in time.

My husband has a T-shirt imprinted with the words: “Daily Schedule — Let the Dog In, Let the Dog Out, Let the Dog In, Let the Dog Out,” which says it all.

At times the training gets even more complicated, however. On a recent evening, for example, I arrived home while the rest of the family was shopping, and immediately let both dogs out into the fenced back yard. Unfortunately Audrey The Junkyard Cat, who is an indoor pet, was apparently waiting under the kitchen table and when the door opened, she shot outside before I could grab her.

Now I had two very agitated dogs outside, along with one disturbed cat who immediately hid under a car which was parked inside the gate. I was able to get the Dane back inside the house, but Emma was busy running circles around the car, trying to catch the cat. (Inside the house they play together frequently, but now in the back yard it was a free-for-all.)

“Come here, Emma,” I yelled, at the same time trying to grab her collar each time she rounded the car and passed me. Like a disobedient child, she paid no attention and continued her mad dash.

Finally she tried to squeeze under the car, and at this point, the cat made a run for the bushes alongside the house. Before Emma could get to her, I pushed behind the branches, scooped the cat up in my arms and headed for the back door.

Have you ever tried to carry a panic-stricken cat while an excited puppy is jumping up against your legs in an attempt to reach her?

The experience was new for me and certainly unsettling for the cat who began to yowl and dig her claws into the sleeve of my blazer. The three of us reached the back door in a kind of bizarre waltzing fashion, but just as I was about to open the door, Audrey found a bare spot on my arm and snagged me with a claw.

In pain, I shouted a few words I don’t normally use and which I hope the neighbors didn’t hear, but we did get inside the door. Audrey launched herself out of my arms, leaving behind a very disappointed puppy and another claw mark on my arm.

By the time my husband and son arrived home, all was calm. I had collapsed in a chair and was watching the political news on TV. The sight of Democrats and Republicans squabbling with one another seemed somehow serene in comparison to my earlier adventure. Emma and Hannah were lying peacefully in front of the fireplace, and Audrey was off in another part of the house, probably complaining to the other cats about her sorry lot in life.

When I told my husband what had happened, he grinned and said to Emma, “Now you wouldn’t do that, would you?”

I could never have imagined that a member of the noble canine family would lie, but that puppy looked up at him with those big, brown eyes, as if to say, “Who me? Of course not.”

She then rolled over on her back, with her legs sticking up in the air, showing off her chubby little belly. Just how charming and blameless could she be?

My husband laughed and settled down to watch the news. He has been around dogs all his life and knows a con artist when he sees one.

Hannah who has had her share of badgering from the puppy, gave me this look that said clearly, “She’s no innocent young thing, is she??”

And I, recalling Hannah’s similar antics when she was a youngster, thought to myself, “Well, it takes one to know one.”

Ferguson is a feature writer for the Herald-Banner.

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