Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sadie and Pumpkin: The Odd Couple- Part II

Sadie is having a difficult time with the concept of "gentle."  Everyday we say a poem from her Mother Goose Nursery Rhythm book.  It says-

I love little kitty
her fur is so warm
and if I don't hurt her
she'll do me no harm
so I'll not pull her tail
nor drive her away,
but kitty and I very gently will play
she'll sit by my side
and I'll give her some food
and kitty will love me,
because I am good.

Sadie and Pumpkin are completely in love.  Pumpkin has a bit of an attitude problem (to put it mildly), except when she's with Sadie.  Most of the time she's a seventeen year old, crotchety cat, looking for a warm place to sleep when she's tired, or someone to scratch when she's not.  When Sadie's in the room she's completely indulgent.  Each afternoon when she comes downstairs she walks straight over to Sadie and starts licking her hair.  Sadie has grabbed her tail, her armpit (try grabbing the armpit of a cat, it's not easy), and large handfuls of hair.  I monitor them very carefully (for both their sakes) but they're both quick.  

Because they're so attached to each other (and because this really seems to be a recipe for disaster, regardless of how vigilant I am when they're in the same room) Sadie and I have been talking about how important it is to be gentle with animals.  I know that she's only seven and a half months old, and is too young to understand "gentle," but I figure that we should probably start early.  Maybe that way the message will sink in.  

Yesterday Sadie had just finished dinner and the rest of the family was about to start eating.  Sadie has a little stack of toys that stay next to her high chair and I hand them to her one at a time.  One by one they hit the ground.  I picked up her bunny puppet, which actually looks a lot like a real bunny.  I made the bunny hop around the high chair, while Sadie squealed in delight.  We talked about being gentle with the bunny and then I handed him over.  

She petted the fur for a moment and I was impressed with how gentle she was being.  I actually thought to myself, "look, she's starting to get it.  This bunny is good practice."  As I said out loud "Good girl.  Gentle.  You're being gentle." she looked at me and then looked at the bunny.  With a huge smile she grabbed the bunny by the ears and started slamming it up and down on the table as hard as she could.  Her little arm went through an entire range of motion, up and down and when the bunny hit the table she looked delighted.

Yesterday when Pumpkin walked in the room she gave Sadie a wide berth and then carefully approached from her head, where Sadie's wild little arms are less likely to grab her.  As Sadie gets more mobile, Pumpkin becomes more cautious.  And I think for a while cautious is going to be just as important as gentle.  

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