Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Clark Circus

Since the baby came, we haven't given enough attention to our family of pets, so this post is dedicated to all our furry creatures. First and foremost is our "little" girl, Sassymuffin (Sassy, for short.) TJ bought her for me when he was living in Oregon, and he definitely picked the right one out of a litter of 11. She's 125 lbs of loveable-ness. Although she's 4 1/2 years old, people still ask if she's a puppy. We think it's because she stayed so gangly, with a bouncy step and more energy than we expected from a St. Bernard. We also thought a Saint would be a little--how shall I put it?--thick in the skull. "Dum, duh, dum, I'm a big dog." But she's not. She has always been incredibly sharp, the star student of her puppy class (although we think she has conveniently "forgotten" all the manners she learned back then.) Her list of tricks include sit, stay, down, speak (loud bark), whisper (small puff of air with little sound), shake, high-5, dance, kisses, and hug. Her hugs are the best. If you love dogs, that is. Big dogs that wrap one massive arm around you. She's been great with Topher, just ignoring him for the most part. Her one big flaw is her hair, which is always shedding. We like to say that she's leaving little pieces of love everywhere she goes. Literally, everywhere. But those big brown eyes are really impossible to get mad at, and we have a vacuum after all. Squash the Persian joined our family the day after Sassy turned 2, and the shelter said she was 2 years old too. We're not cat people, but we think they are strange and funny enough to share our home with one. We chose Squash because the minute we saw her flattened face (which won her the name "Squash") and botched "poodle" haircut, we couldn't stop laughing. She and Sassy had a rough first meeting (she hissed, Sassy ran), but since day 2 they have been best friends. We'll find them snuggled up together or Squash will come and rub her face all over Sassy's or sometimes, as Sassy is walking by, Squash will reach out a paw and bat her on the head. She's been totally nonchalant since we brought Topher home. If anything, she's become more friendly since she doesn't get quite as much attention. She does enjoy the baby's toys, though, and will watch intently whenever I dangle anything over Topher. I thought she was particularly clever when she learned how to work the rattle ball on the new jungle gym Topher got for Christmas (see video below): video Truman is last in the furry lineup. Because of his natural musk, he lives in the lower level of the house. He has been de-scented (like a pet skunk), but he still has a certain "perfume" he likes to wear. We've had him the longest. We bought him when we were in college in Columbia, MO as a precursor to getting a dog. He's a funny creature. We were in a pet store once and there was a large clear bin of ferrets and I reached in to pet them and they started biting me, hard. That surprised me to no end because Truman has never bitten anything or anyone, but I guess that's the exception when it comes to ferrets. Apparently most of them are quite bitey and we just got a super-nice one. Truman is curious, clumsy, mischievous, and a thief. If he comes across a trashcan, he'll jump up, hang on the edge, and wait for it to fall over on himself. Then he'll start digging through. If he comes across a cup, he'll tip it over, full or not, and help himself to your drink. Once he came across a candy bowl with Hershey's kisses in it and couldn't resist that shiny foil. He grabbed one and ran away, looking for somewhere safe to stash his treasure. On our move from Oregon back to Iowa, he stayed in our hotel room and we lost him. We roamed the halls and tried to look innocent as we kept passing the front desk but he was gone for good. Until we opened the hotel room's dresser drawer. There was a spare pillow in there and he had curled up and gone to sleep (he must have crawled in from underneath and behind the drawer.) He yawned and blinked up at us like, "What?" It was pretty funny. It sounds like it would be hard to have a newborn in addition to all the pets, but we wouldn't have it any other way. We also have a ball python, Sheila, who's very calm and easy to care for, but she obviously doesn't connect with people like the mammals do. I always say this is what happens when two Animal Science majors get married. And this is tame for us. In the past we've had a rabbit, a multitude of rats, a couple hamsters, several attempts at fish, hermit crabs, a few parakeets, and 2 high-maintenance guinea pigs. Topher will always have animals around. We like to keep things spicy here. --Macie

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