Creature Comforts: An ode to my pets — a love story
You sit on my pillow with muddy or cat-littery feet.
You bark at everything and nothing.
You walk around the house yowling in the wee hours of the morning.
You steal food off the counter.
You knock stuff off the table.
You eat stupid stuff and then vomit under the sheets in my bed, or in your own bed, or on the rug, or on the couch or in my car.
You burp in my face.
You have destroyed three full sets of expensive window blinds at our front window.
You’ve skidded across my wood furniture, leaving deep gouges with your toenails. Like my mother before me, I am resigned: I cannot have nice things.
I love you, anyway.
I have had to change my entire outfit on more than one occasion because of accidents caused by you. Hot coffee, an entire bowl of cereal (in milk), essence of rotting carcass, some sort of bodily fluid leaking from one of your orifices, soup — an incomplete list.
Some of the games you’ve invented: “Come get me with a stick (or a sock or something gross you found in the yard)” or “catch me if you can” are not as fun for me as for you. And they make me late for stuff.
You lick pillows, and the couch, and the floor, and me.
You rub your gooey eye zoobies all over the pillows, the couch, the floor, and me.
You have put our couch through so much.
Despite all of this, I still love you. The couch — not so much, anymore.
I have rearranged my work schedule for you.
I have left fun get-togethers early to take care of you.
I have changed vacation plans for you.
Because I love you.
I will feed you at the pre-established, designated times, in measured allotments.
I will rub your ears and scritch your chinny-chin-chin and talk baby talk to all of you except Miriam and the fish and reptiles, who do not appreciate that, for some reason.
I will scratch your butt, because you asked.
I will hold your ears back when you’re throwing up.
I will stay up all night, holding and stroking your little, trembling body, waiting for the medications to kick in so you can find comfort and sleep.
I will carry you up the stairs and down the stairs and up the stairs and down the stairs and inside and outside and inside and outside whenever you ask, and sometimes when you don’t.
I will drag my butt out of my warm bed to carry you outside before sunup, in an ice storm, even when I’m sick and it’s my day off.
I will set you back onto your little, unsteady feet when you tip over and can’t right yourself.
I will book a hotel that allows pets, and pay extra so you can be with us.
I will make my family eat breakfast in shifts at hotels, so you won’t have to be alone.
For the cold blooded and scaly: I will continue to spend hours cleaning your tank so it’s sparkling.
I will clean up poopageddon in the yard each spring, when the frozen tundra thaws. I will whine about it a lot, but I’ll do it.
I will brush you as best I can — even if you try to bite me.
When I can’t brush you, I will seek out professionals who can, and will make you look spiffy, again — and I will pay them handsomely for their troubles.
Despite your strenuous protestations, I will trim your toenails. I will find help when you protest too much.
I will bathe you when you stink. You will smell like flowers and cucumbers. Unless you are Miriam, in which case, you will smell like flowery-cucumbery hound.
I will protect you from parasites.
I will vaccinate you to protect you from serious and deadly illnesses.
Because I love you.
I will protect you from yourself, hence the installation of two different kinds of fences.
I will chase you through the neighborhood, sweating bullets and praying fervent prayers for your safe return when you crash through, jump over, or squeeze through both fences to chase a bunny.
I will forgive you for murdering bunnies and other small, innocent critters.
I will break up your fights, and tend your wounds, and forgive you as quickly as you seem to forgive each other.
I will continue to monitor your health, treat your injuries and illnesses, and work hard to uphold your comfort for as long as I am able. And I will forgive myself when I see you suffering and I can no longer help you, and I must let you go.
Because I love you.
— Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at email@example.com.