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November 08, 2009

My Baby Has Fleas

By Elaine VietsScan0001_0001

Okay, I admit it. I don’t know how to talk to my cat. His name is Harry, and sometimes I call him that. Other times I call him "boy." Well, he is a male cat. Or Handsome Harry, because he has gorgeous green eyes. I even praise his pretty stripes.

I don’t call him my "fur child" or "fur kid," because that would be ridiculous.

Do I hear you snickering?

Rightly so. How should we talk to our furry friends? I tried to tackle that problem in my new mystery, "The Fashion Hound Murders."

Josie Marcus, the mystery shopper, is jealous of Alyce’s new friend, Traci. Traci has adopted a bichon from a puppy mill. Traci and her dog dresses in matching outfits. The pair wind up on TV as Traci campaigns against puppy mills.

Josie faces the green-eyed monster as she watches their interview. Josie’s ten-year-old daughter, Amelia, adds the color commentary. Here’s the scene:

There was Traci and Snowball, both wearing matching rhinestone hoodies, like a pair of rock stars.

"This is my baby, Snowball," Traci said, in that annoying shrill voice.

"Yap!" Snowball said.

"I may barf," Josie said to the television.

"Did you say something, Mom?" Amelia was standing in Josie’s doorway, dressed for school.

"Look at that silly woman," Josie said. "She calls a bichon her baby."

"So?" Amelia said. "I think it’s cute. Their outfits are awesome."

"Would you dress Harry in rhinestones?"

"No. He doesn’t need them," Amelia said. "He’s not a fluffy dog. Why are you so down on her, Mom? She’s a nice lady who helped a sick dog. And look at her puppy. Snowball seems happy. Her tail is wagging."

Tears brimmed in Traci’s eyes as she cuddled her pup and looked straight into the camera. "My poor little baby was never allowed to play," she said. "Her tiny feet never touched the ground. When I got her, she was covered with flea bites and she had ear mites. She was underweight. The vet said she was lucky – lucky! Many puppy mill dogs have far worse problems. Puppies like Snowball suffer so I could have a silly piece of paper that said she was pedigreed. I don’t need any paper to know she’s special."

Traci kissed her dog. A single tear started down her face. "Snowball is learning to walk and play. She’s getting medicine. She’s gained half a pound. She’s getting better every day. If you go to my YouTube site, ‘Snowball in Hell,’ you’ll see her progress on my puppycam. If you want to talk about your own rescue pup, email me at snowballsmommy.com."

"Gag me," Josie said.

"Mom, stop it!" Amelia said. "You sound like Zoe at school when she’s ragging about Harry."

At the mention of his name, the little cat appeared and bumped his forehead against Josie’s leg to greet her.

"Hello to you, too," Josie said. "There’s my good boy." DSCN0005_0002

"Excuse me?" Amelia said. "Did you just call a cat your boy? I’ve always wanted a brother, but I never expected one with four legs."

"It’s just a figure of speech," Josie said. Shame seared her mind. She’d thought she’d gotten over her jealous impulses, but they were definitely alive. Her daughter was right. Josie was acting like a spoiled ten-year-old.

"Why can Harry be your boy, but Snowball can’t be Traci’s baby?" Amelia asked.

"Let this be a lesson to you," Josie said.

"Another one?" Amelia rolled her eyes. "What do I need to know now?"

"Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they act like an adult."

In the next scene, Josie finds herself talking to Amelia’s cat.

Harry the cat met Josie at the door, his striped tail at a jaunty angle.

"You’ve come out to say hello," Josie said, falling into the baby talk that people use around pets. "You’re my good . . . uh . . . animal companion."

That sounded lame. But she couldn’t call Harry her "good boy." Not after what Amelia had said. Josie knew she sounded as silly as Traci. She reached down to scratch Harry’s ears and said, "Amelia will be back from school this afternoon."

What am I doing talking to a cat? Josie thought. He doesn’t understand a word I’m saying. She sent Traci a mental apology. I’m sorry. I’m only a rhinestone away from you.



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It's amazing how attached one can get to our furry companions, both feline and canine, but dressing them up? No, that's a line I just won't cross. Ever....

I must admit we're in mourning around here. After our own dogs passed away, we took a shine to our neighbor's wonderful Sheltie, Cody. He was truly the best, most well-behaved, intuitive dog we've ever known. He died this week--only 9 years old. We're very sad! But dress him up? Uh, no. He was a herding dog, through and through.

How's the book tour going, Elaine? Have any of our backbloggers turned up at your events yet?

Here's Elaine's tour, if anyone is in Illinois, St. Louis, Miami or looking forward to the Lake County book festival in Florida---among others! http://www.elaineviets.com/pages/events.asp

(reposting from late yesterday -- I've started "Fashion Hound" and loving it -- I wish I had no appointments today so I could keep reading).
Elaine's book signing _Fashion Hound Murders _ was great fun with plenty of "real books" -- enhanced by Karen Maslowski's visit all the way from Ohio (she spent Friday night here at the eco-house). I put some photos on FB, but 3/4 of the book signing photos are in the "Last import" bunch, with some mystery red leaves photos . . . -- Alan took many more photos (better, I'm sure) and I hope he will post also.
Alan and his princesses and queen opted for a romp in a park rather than lunch at Mai Lee's -- a good choice on such a pretty day. I gave the girls a Frog and Friends CD, and I'll be looking forward to the princesses' opinions on the Frog - -- hope they like it!
I expect to be reading most of the rest of the weekend.

One almost-disaster for me: The store had decorated with latex balloons -- a big no-no for anyone with latex allergies, as the balloons put latex molecules into the air. I should have left, but store personnel graciously put them away in a back room, and I didn't seem to get too itchy (of course, Elaine could distract a listener from almost anything). I keep trying to raise consciousness that other decorations would be more appropriate in public places, in consideration of the 1% of the population with this annoying allergy.

I talk to the cats constantly. I try to not talk baby talk to them, but sometimes when I've pinioned them upsidedown in my arms like a baby, I intensify their dislike by talking cutesy to them.

Interesting -- I first learned of puppy mills from another mystery series The Dog Lover Mysteries by Susan Conant. How great that you have the ability to bring a hidden element of our society out in the open -- why it's just as if you were a reporter!

BTW, I addressed my Frog houseguest as "Prince" and did wish him good morning and good night -- he didn't seem to mind, as long as the crickets kept coming.

Holly, good observation. Of course, now that Elaine's books have "killed all the editors" . . . ;-)
BTW, on a very small scale, I'll have events for the Frog CD, at Java G's Tuesday at 6 and Borders Mid-Rivers Saturday at noon!

We have a cat, Bernard, or Bernie as he is known. He adopted us. And cats don't have owners, they have staff! His previous staff was not as attentive nor appreciative of his attributes as we.

I think we talk to our pets and humanize them because they are part of our family. Pets calm us with their unqualified love. We reciprocate by talking to them, petting them, providing food, shelter and love. Oh, and I'm now typing around this 15 pound furry fellow who has decided the best place to spend a not yet sunny day is between my keyboard and my monitor, while purring like a very loud lawnmower. Pets keep us company so we aren't lonely when we are alone. Pets seem to know just when to give us a snuggle. Pets can give us a reason to get up in the morning and come home at night. But clothes! No self respecting cat would allow clothes. Like Elaine said the other day the knives on the back feet of a cat can shred in a heart beat.

What I have always wondered about is those people who keep so many cats or dogs in their homes. You know the ones, you read about them in the newspaper (remember newspapers??) when the local authorities go calling to rescue those poor animals. Do those folks give names to their animals and talk to them as though they were human? The living conditions in those houses are perhaps as bad as puppy mills I would think.

Can't wait to read the new book, Elaine. And just to provide a little pressure, when will the next one be out?

Elaine, I am guilty of this. The dogs are both "my baby" and Dixie the Bunny is "Bunny boo-boo." I can't help it. My children are aghast when I go into my Pet Voice. I know, I know, it's a disease.

Our hounds (1 Basset, 1 Mix), are called by their names (Winker and Lucy) most of the time (unless they are being bad, in which case they are called by their first two names "Winker Sue" and "Lucy Louise"), but they are also referred to (pluarally) as "the babydogs" or, most often, "The Girls". Oh, and Winker is also known as "The Winkerdog".

Yes, we spoil them and anthropomorphize the hell outta them.

But...we would never, EVER dress them up.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go cook lunch for my dogs, then sing the "FOOOOOOD FOOOOOR DOOOGGGGSSSSS!" song while serving it to them.

Lol, Doc.

We lost our 18-year-old cat this week, so we're sad. I also have 3 dogs, and one is, ahem, a Bichon. But as I said earlier this week, they don't have clothes.

Talking on the other hand, we totally do. We talk to them all the time. Not really any baby voices or anything, but yeah, lots of conversation. And if you're going to try and tell me they don't answer back, you're wrong.

At my house, we understand exactly what you're talking about.

"Dressing dogs in clothes and talking to them like humans is silly," said Jill the retriever before returning her head to Cyndi's pillow on the king sized bed.

"I agree," echoed Maggie the Border Collie from the couch, before settling back for her afternoon nap before dinner.

wow, nice blog, keep working
greetings, soulheroes.com

I've been reading your novel The Fashion Hound Murders and I am loving it.

Elaine, I started reading your book last night, and I'm so enjoying it! I love how you incorporate local color into your books. It makes it so much more real.

I almost skipped the appointment at the Apple Store, but couldn't figure out how to cancel it -- and I do need to learn how to update my web site . . . web mistress MIA and no updates since March.
Even so, I'm likely to finish before bed -- my niece says you nailed the PAAT animal activist perfectly. (I'd said I hated the dialogue because it sounded like a pamphlet, then read her a bit. She told me I just haven't met as many of them as she has, and it's exactly how they talk!) Well done!!
Karen, I miss having you here for ongoing book talk . . .

It's like walking into a group of pals again. I used to visit here daily and at ADWOFF as JaniceNW, hard to believe years ago. Been in school and just passed my nursing boards at 47. Looking for a job for 1st time in 20 some years...

My 21yo bought home a baby pitbull last June. He was 5lbs back then, 45obs at 6 months old! Medically speaking, having pets lowers stress levels and blood pressure. Even a nippy teeny pitbull who now runs us all. :-)

checking in late. The book signings have been a blast. Saw Karen in Ohio in St. Louis!Storyteller Mary was there, too.
And Alan, Queen Molly and the princesses. Heard Pam was sick -- hope you are better. And Lucy came on Sunday.
Doc, your dog stories make me laugh.

People should never dress matching with their pets ... never. Unless it's a scheduled costume party. I know my 'big boy' Benji would never tolerate it. 'Big Big'? Why, he's an enormous feline, but that is his way. Nothing wrong with that. So, 'No' to matching outfits, but 'Yes' to cuddly names for our "animal companion" ;)

I'm currently reading Murder Melts in Your Mouth whle recuperating from knee surgey, I have never laughed so hard, I was crying when I read the part when they are held hostages, I know it is not funny but it reminds me of family when we all get together. Thanks for the laughter.

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