I Cherish My Horses
Why I wish the rest of my family would just
Maddy B. Gray
started innocently enough.
teenage sons and I were Christmas shopping in Portland’s Old Port. We were
checking out a lovely, high-end pet shop and they decided they needed to get
something for Spike, our cat.
found something affordable (no small task) – a tin of catnip. Great! The
purchase was made and the teenagers were thrilled with the notion that Spike
– acquired from a shelter earlier this year – would not be left out of the
evening approached, we returned home. The teenagers couldn’t help giving Spike
an early treat. They sprinkled some of the herb on the doormat. He got animated
and rolled around on the floor in appreciation.
dinner and talked about our purchased gifts.
Ain’t Christmas grand? Love, good
intentions, and generosity were positively orbiting around the table.
out to the barn to toss my horses their hay and said goodnight. I let the dogs
out for their last pee and called them back in.
was well. The house was quiet in a cheery, pre-Christmas way. Even with Santa
no longer in the picture, there was still plenty of affection and anticipation
in the air.
suspect many of you are like me. If there are subtle stirrings at night, you
one of the teenagers returned from a friend’s house at midnight, I woke up and
checked on him.
one of the dogs got restless at 2 am, I got up and let him out.
hindsight, I should have known something was up at that point. He never needs a
may speak for many of you, again, when admitting I’m not exactly a firefighter,
jumping into boots, sliding down the pole, ready to report to Incident Command.
Roused from slumber, I'm more of a
bumbling, minimally-functional zombie. I might not have a full
and accurate understanding of my surroundings. I might miss some traffic signals, if you know what I mean.
came. At 6
am, I emerged from the delicious warmth of my down comforter, shook off the bad night’s sleep, and
stumbled towards the coffee maker.
Gone was the bliss of the prior evening. If you can imagine an instant
hangover without the alcohol, I had it. And all it took was a few glances
around the place to acquire that multiple-tequila-shot,
what-the-hell-happened state of mind.
The first thing I noticed was the catnip
tin. Spike had managed to open it. Its contents were strewn all over the
linoleum kitchen floor.
Ok. No biggie. I stooped to push all the catnip into a preliminary
pile before fetching the broom and dustpan.
The boys hadn't purchased tin of catnip, they'd bought a Pandora's Box.
in his stoned and blissful state, Spike had rolled in the stuff and then taken
a grand tour around his kingdom. It was like
someone generously sprinkled oregano all over the kitchen counters, all over
the washer and dryer. All over the place.
enter the canines.
best friend, right?
for me on this early Sunday morning.
must have tried to join Spike on his altered journey. But instead of smelling
it and rolling in it, they ate it.
make them sick.
turned on the lights to the hall and the living room, the results revealed
themselves. Squirts of green diarrhea and piles of yellow vomit everywhere. It
was like an evil Santa had given some rotten toddler one of those Super Soaker squirt guns
full of icky, nasty, stinky stuff.
before even a cup of coffee to take the edge off, I was on my knees, scrubbing
carpets and trying to suppress my gag reflex.
Oh, about the coffee. When prepping it for action, I misplaced the lid on the carafe. So, my desperately-needed black elixir went running all over the counter instead of dripping obediently into the pot.
Ok, let's try again.
Yes, that sound you hear is one of grinding teeth.
second, I contemplated yelling upstairs and forcing the teenagers into action.
But really, what good are teenagers at 6 am? I figured keeping them out of the
picture was a win-win for all of us.
Oh, and we
could all laugh about it later.
dogs and cat looked at me sheepishly.
into my coveralls and boots, fixed a To-Go mug and headed outside. It was about
eight degrees, windy and threatening snow. Gosh, it was great to be heading to the