Have you ever wondered what your animals think you do for a living? It’s an interesting question. If you could speak Dog or Cat or Gerbil, what would your critters say that you do all day?
Early on, I would come home and get thoroughly snorfled by my dog Max. I think he thought I spent my days in one of those Big Human Boxes, rolling around in the sort of stuff that he enjoys rolling in. His eyes would go wide if he detected the smallest hint of a Bodily Fluid Disaster on my scrubs, and he’d drool in excitement over my shoes. Sometimes I’d find him head down in the laundry hamper, checking out the condition of my patients from the previous shift.
He’s gotten used to it. I no longer have to submit to a doggy inspection when I let him in at night, and he’s hardly noticed my shoes for a year or better. He seems to assume that, whatever it is I roll in, it never changes and therefore is now boring.
The cats, two brothers who are equal parts evil and snuggly, are different. For them, the excitement lies exclusively in my shoes, and has never waned. If you put a hopping tuna can covered with catnip in the middle of their favorite plush blanket, they could not be more interested than they are in my insoles. I’ve heard that cats respond to sweaty shoes the way they respond to catnip, and I’m beginning to believe it’s true.
Still, they never ask questions. They just bury their heads in my sneakers or clogs and fall asleep.
It’s not like I haven’t tried to communicate the seriousness of what I do. Every morning before I leave, I tell all three of my pets to be good, not destroy anything I can’t repair, and then remind them that I am leaving to get the money to buy them kibble and toys. Twice a month we have a sit-down meeting to discuss budgeting; I feel it’s important that they understand the sacrifices I make for bully sticks and Nepeta cataria. I even suggested once that they all go out to find part-time jobs in order to pull their own weight, but that idea was voted down three to one on the basis of a lack of opposable thumbs. Plus, Max said that we’d need another car for his commute.
Final analysis: Max obviously sees my world as one big park full of unidentifiable flat things to lie on, and the cats believe I exist only to serve them. No matter how I present it, I can’t get feedback from any of them beyond “Oh, hey! It’s a rawhide chew!” or “Rub my belly.”
Come to think of it, that last request is what some of my patients think I’m there for, too.