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What would life be like without our pet cats, dogs?

October 11, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

Animals. What would we do without them?

A friend in Cumberland called to tell me her gargantuan dog-friend The Boz had been invited to a local bar for a party. "By himself?" I asked.

"No, he didn't go by himself," she said drily, as if I was trying to be cute.

I wasn't trying to be cute. I was serious. You have to know Boz to know what I'm talking about.

Boz, part Rottweiler and part Lab, has invited himself to parties before. I reminded my friend about the time he raided someone's picnic and brought home a bag of barbecued chicken, and about the time he lugged home a doggy bag filled with hardshell crabs.

My friend said this time the Boz went to the party with a human. He stole nothing, and had a roaring good time.

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"He had ham and cheese sandwiches and celery stuffed with peanut butter," she said. "He enjoyed every minute of it."

"I'm sure he did," I said. "Didn't he get any dessert?"

Boz loves dessert, especially chocolate.

Any veterinarian worth his or her salt will tell you chocolate is the worst thing a dog can eat.

Boz doesn't care.

Boz gets what Boz wants.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you. He had cake after his meal," my friend said.

"Must have been in seventh Heaven," I said.

"Oh, he was. Yes, indeedy, he was."

"How is Boz, by the way?" I asked.

"He's doing quite well, thank you," my friend said. "He's actually lost some weight."

That meant he was down to a svelte 150 pounds.

I forgot to ask if Boz had been out with his 2-foot-2 girlfriend lately - the one that walks under him when they're strolling the woods together...

Any discussion about animals cannot exclude an update on the evil machinations of my mother's compact, rotund beast Katy, a.k.a. Attila the Hun a.k.a. Control Freak.

Attila has taken to lurking in the dark on top of the table in the laundry room where, incidentally, the litter boxes are located. My cats Scooter and Cassie are terrified of crossing over the threshold into the room, lest they hear her gravelly growl and find her stocky form hurtling toward them, razor-sharp claws outstretched like little skewers.

When I see them headed for the litter, I walk with them, or first remove a growling Atilla from the room. Forced removal of Atilla is not a pleasant task. Witness the etchings on my forearm.

To her credit, the other night Cassie became highly disturbed after Atilla jumped her from her hiding place on the seat of a dining room chair.

I cheered raucously as my pile of fur chased Atilla upstairs at speeds I didn't know she could achieve.

She came back down and walked up to me proudly with triumphant, swaggering gait.

I gave her Kluckers as a reward.

Unfortunately, Cassie has paid for her insolence ever since. Atilla hunts her down like prey.

It ain't pretty.

I've made arrangements to take Cassie to attack cat school, in hopes it will bolster her self-confidence and give her the tools to mount a counter-offensive.

One can only hope...

Pets are supposed to lower blood pressure and help people live longer. A friend of mine in Hagerstown disputes this contention.

The family's new pooch Charlie has frazzled her nerves so badly she has been heard to cry aloud, "Drugs! Give me drugs!"

Charlie is a big, black Lab. Labs love to chew. They chew on shoes, socks, wood, rocks, and body parts. Charlie is particularly fond of my friend's forearms. He prefers her forearms to his chew sticks and rawhide bones.

My friend said today she's going to kill Charlie.

When she said that, he grabbed one of her sneakers and put a couple dents in it.

"I woke up the other morning to this horrible chewing sound," my friend said. "When I got up, there were Barbie doll body parts all over the house. A head here, a thigh there, a torso there...Pieces from about eight Barbies scattered all over the floor." Her voice trailed off. She sat there, sort of staring blankly into space as Charlie gnawed on her tibia.

I thought about what my friend said. Of course, she didn't mean it. She has no intention of killing Charlie. She loves him with all her heart...

On second thought, I think I'll see if I can get her some drugs.

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