Living with Bettina Greyhound-Priceless


Why It’s a Bad Idea to Keep a 15 Year Old ‘Cat Mat’

Blue, Bettina and I attended a canine event in Gardiner, Maine.  It’s an annual event and typically we man the Maine Greyhound Placement Service booth but this year we decided to attend as part of the general public.  We met our friends Billy, Shannon, Trouble and Sugaree and spent the morning wandering around, meeting, greeting, visiting and chatting with all the dog folks out and about.

The scene of the Cat Mat crime
Looks perfectly harmless, right?
As we worked our way towards the exit of the park, we came upon a booth for a mobile veterinarian.  This group is there every year.  We stopped to chat with the vet manning the table.  It wasn’t long before both the vet and I noticed Bettina.  While Blue was people and dog watching, Bettina was laser focused on the vet’s table.  She was trying to work her way around a big box on the ground at the end of the table to get closer.  Despite dogs and people swirling all around her, she seemed oblivious to this bounty.

The vet had some papers and some information about canine weight loss on the table.  Bettina was desperate to get to the other side of this table and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.  Soon she was barking her fool head off.  I thought at first, she was barking at the vet.  But she was not.  After several rounds of barking she tried to jump up on the table.  I pulled her back several times and scolded her.  She was not dissuaded.

The human vet and the human mumma are most definitely not sight hounds.  So we can be forgiven for the fact that it wasn’t until her second or third attempt to gain the summit of the table that we figured out what was so important to her.  I had not noticed it before, but the vet had 3-4 pieces of fur sitting at the back of the table.  They looked like cat hides and at first I was a little horrified thinking he had skinned some cats and saved their skins.  

It wasn’t as gruesome as that but nearly so.  In fact, they were ‘cat mats.’  This is a term I had never heard of before but apparently if a long haired cat goes un-groomed and gets too matted, the only solution is to shave the poor thing down.  What gets shaved off is a cat rug the size of the feline in question. 

I felt a little sad for any cats that ended up in this condition.  On the table was evidence of at least 4 cats who had ended up that way.  What was puzzling to me, however, is why anyone would want to save such a thing.  Maybe you save ONE as a cautionary tale to other cat owners.  But saving four of them?  That’s a collection.  That indicates a hobby.  These ‘cat mats’ weren’t in the shape of the Virgin Mary or anything.  There wasn’t anything special about them that I could see.

It went from strange to truly bizarre when the vet informed me that at least one of them was 15 years old.
Bettina, just before "the incident"
  Someone saved a giant mat of cat fur for more than a decade!  As I was pondering this, the vet took the rattiest of the four mats and held it out at Bettina level. 

Ole Lightning Fussypants did not look a crazy gift vet in the mouth.  She grabbed that nasty piece of fur so quickly that neither the vet nor I actually saw it happen.  The next thing we knew, she was shaking that ancient cat hair for all she was worth.  It must have smelled very cattish because she seemed convinced it could and should be killed.

I did have to agree with her on that one point, it should have been killed.  But the vet was of another opinion.  He started yelling that I should not let her rip it and other things I wasn’t paying attention to as I wrestled Bettina for her prize.  She was so in the cat killing zone that she just chomped on that fur fast and hard, paying no attention to my fingers that had been jammed into her mouth in an effort to pry her jaws open. 

I was eventually successful in prying open her mouth and grabbing the soggy, nasty old cat fur back, but not before she flattened several fingers between her molars.  I threw the thing back at the vet and he spent a little time petting and primping it before he replaced it with the other three. 

He gave me a wry smile and said, “Huh.  She’s high prey.” 

I took a moment to formulate my response as I massaged some blood back into my crushed fingers.  I decided that the response that would get me in the least amount of trouble was, “Yes.  Yes she is.” 

“I guess I shouldn’t have held that out for her to sniff.” 

Again I took a moment to mentally edit my response in the interests of politeness.  “No.  No you shouldn’t have.”


UMOs in Area K9 (Long Live Science)

Here at YIKMDLF we just LOOOOOOOVE scientists.  It never ceases to amaze us about what sorts of studies get conducted.  We’d dearly like to know who funds most of these studies and get their phone number.  We have a few studies of our own we’d like to conduct.

The latest piece of mind-boggling research that we discovered involves looking at how dogs react to an unidentified moving object.  Sounds vaguely scientific right?  This study took some dogs and put them together in a room with a remote controlled car.  To make it more scientific they set up two different scenarios.  One where the remote controlled car was unaltered and another where the remote controlled car had eyes drawn on to the windshield.  Why would they put eyes on the remote controlled car?  The car without eyes was called the mechanical unidentified moving object (UMO) and the car with the eyes was called the social unidentified moving object (UMO). 

Honestly we think this study shows us far more about the inner workings of the scientists but, being humble civilians without any big funding behind us, who are we to say?  The scientists brought the dogs in the room and drove the cars around in a fixed pattern, or interactively based on what the dog did.  The earth shattering results of this brilliant use of tax payer dollars?  The dogs looked at the social UMO more than the mechanical UMO.  And the conclusion?  Dogs probably watched the cars because they were novel.  Oh yeah, and because they were moving.

Blue greyhound stares down his prey
Blue prefers his objects stationary.
We are not scientific Luddites, but here is another example of something that any dog owner could have filled them in on had we only been asked.  Then they could have spent all those scientific dollars on researching a cure for osteosarcoma say.  

This experiment conducted in our living room would result as follows:

Bettina sees the car and finds it fascinating because it is moving.  She proceeds forward  to investigate it but the second it turns towards her, she starts scrabbling backwards to get away from it.  The car and Bettina then engage in a dance of approach and retreat until Bettina figures out from a distance that it can’t be eaten and loses interest.  The addition of a pair of eyes to the windshield of the UMO would not affect the outcome.

Blue sees the car and immediately becomes wary.  When it begins to move, he moves on to downright scared.  He begins leaning hard into the nearest human hoping for protection.  If the car makes any move whatsoever in his direction, he panics and blindly runs in a direction that is away from the car.  This continues until someone takes pity on the poor beast and lets him out of the room.  The addition of a pair of eyes to the windshield of the UMO in this instance serve to increase Blue’s horror level.  

Our conclusion drawn from this thought experiment?  That pet owners need to form a coalition.  We’ll make it easy for the scientists to find us.  They deposit their research dollars into our account to be distributed to various good canine causes of our choosing, and we tell them the results from our real life experience for any experiment they can dream up.  No animals harmed (physically or psychologically), no scientists harmed (physically or psychologically) and maybe a cure for canine cancer.