The Not-So-Glamorous Parts of Pet Parenthood

Is there anything worse than stepping in a wet hairball in the middle of the night? Okay, yes, surely there are many things worse than that: death, taxes, sitting in a McDonald’s drive-through line for 20 minutes only to find out you can’t get a McFlurry because the ice cream machines are down. Still, stepping in a hairball is no fun. It is the opposite of fun, it’s anti-fun.

Part of it is the surprise factor. You are groggily making your way to the bathroom in what you hope is still early in the night and suddenly you step on something. Instantaneously, you do an awkward jig to get off of whatever you just stepped on. Visions of mice, spiders, and poop fragments fill your head as you quickly assess that the object was wet. Ewww…As your brain more fully awakens, it hits you, you just stepped in a hairball. Damn.

That was pretty much the way my morning started, only it was too early to get up. Not wanting to spread the hairball and associated fluids across the carpet, I hopped to the bathroom sink, grabbed and dampened a washcloth, and scrubbed my foot. I then cleaned up the hairball and the carpet, leaving the Nature’s Miracle to soak while I went into the bathroom to do what I’d originally gotten up to do. A couple of minutes later, I finished cleaning the carpet, washed my hands, and climbed back into bed where my wife and Jasper, the cat, were still sleeping peacefully.

I tried to get comfy and fall back to sleep. Just as I had almost succeeded, Max, the most likely culprit in the hairball incident, jumped on the bed and meowed good morning to me. I patted the bed next to me, encouraging him to snuggle in and settle down. He probably wanted food, but love ranks higher than food on Max’s list of priorities, so this usually worked. He walked up and over my legs and was soon purring loudly as I rubbed his belly.

I almost drifted back to sleep when Max suddenly jumped off the bed and darted up the cat tree. This is where Max sleeps. He only visits our bed for a few minutes at a time and once he’s soaked up his quota of love, he heads to whatever level of the cat tree is his favorite for that week. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a perfect arrangement because I tend to get a bit claustrophobic when pinned under the covers, so it’s great he prefers not to stay long.

It felt like I’d only just gotten back to sleep when the alarm sounded. After hitting snooze twice, I finally got up and walked through the wet spot on the carpet. I mentally cursed but did not jump off the spot this time knowing I’d managed to find the recently cleaned patch. I would have warned my wife so she didn’t step in the wet spot, but it was on my side of the bed. Max is very thoughtful that way.

Only minutes later, after getting dressed and brushing my teeth, I ventured downstairs to greet our dog, Kola. She happily sleeps in her crate at night and is eager to see me each morning. I let her out and she excitedly greeted me by wiggling her way into a position seated on my feet. I bent over her to give her a nice shoulder and chest massage. Looking up at me with adoration, she snuck in a couple of kisses. This is our usual way of saying good morning. It is normally followed by a belly rub on her blanket in the family room and then breakfast.

However, this ended up not being a normal morning. After our initial hellos, I happened to glance inside her crate and noticed a pile of vomit at one end…and the other. Ugh. The next few minutes I scrambled around getting Kola and everything that was in her crate outside. I settled her inside her kennel and gave her a small breakfast of kibble and rice, hoping it would be gentle on her stomach. I then hosed off the crate tray, the food mat her bowls usually sit on that was in the splash zone just outside her crate, and all the bedding. All of the fabric items were then tossed into the wash.

It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes later that I was eating a bowl of cereal when my wife uttered those three special words that leave me speechless.

“Max smells bad.”

“Crap,” I said not meaning to be literal but managing it anyway. I shovelled the last few bites of cereal into my mouth. I hate soggy cereal so I wanted to finish my breakfast before starting this next task.

“Grab Max. I’ll meet you in the bathroom,” I mumbled around my last mouthful of Special K Red Berries. Soon I was in the bathroom wiping Max’s back end with a warm, wet washcloth as my wife held him on the counter. He was only slightly irritated. Given that this was my third bodily fluid clean-up of the morning, I was more so.

Fortunately, a quick wash was all Max needed and we soon released him from his countertop torture. I made a general announcement to the household that I was done cleaning up for the day. Three was my limit. A few hours later, while we cooked lunch, Jasper replied by throwing up his food.

With animals, some days are just like that.