I know an old woman

Dorothy-RosbyYou know that children’s song about the old woman who swallowed a fly? It’s been running through my head for a week now, but I still don’t know why she swallowed that fly. I guess she’ll die.

You’ll recall she swallowed a spider to catch the fly, and then a bird to catch the spider, and a cat to catch the bird, and a dog to catch the cat, then a goat, a cow and eventually a horse. And she died of course. Who wouldn’t? Frankly, I’m surprised she lasted as long as she did.

At any rate, that’s exactly what I did this week. Except I didn’t die. And I’m not old, though I have aged considerably over the past week. Also, there were no horses, goats, or cows involved. Just a dog, a cat, a bird and the occasional fly and spider. And I didn’t actually swallow any of them. But other than that, it was exactly the same story.

We have a cat and a canary who long ago came to an uneasy truce, the pet peace accords, based on the simple fact that the bird is safe as long as he’s in his cage. And he stays in his cage as long as the 17-pound block sits in front of it to keep it from being knocked over by the 10-pound cat. Peace reigns—until the block is dislodged by the 40-pound dog who is visiting us.

Not that it has been—yet. But it has come precariously close. The dog is a red heeler mix, and to say she is somewhat more rambunctious than our cat is like saying swallowing a horse is somewhat more difficult than swallowing a fly. The dog is adorable, though both the cat and the bird would disagree if they’d come out of hiding long enough to discuss it.

It’s hard to tell by the dog’s behavior if she’s just curious about our critters, or if she wants to hunt them down and swallow them whole. But it doesn’t matter; the result would be the same. You know that old cliché about curiosity killing the cat? I think it may have the same effect on a bird.cat

Any way you look at it, this house isn’t big enough for the three of them. So, for now, we’ve moved the cat food to the bedroom, otherwise the dog eats it. The cat, who usually has free roam of the house, has also been moved to the bedroom, otherwise the dog might eat it too.

The bird cage is in the office with the door closed. The dog it not interested in the bird’s food, but she is terribly interested in the bird.

Meanwhile, the dog has taken over the house. She’s our guest after all. Plus, she’s harder to corral and more vocal when you do. But she’s not taking full advantage of her freedom. When she’s not sitting outside the office door, she’s sitting outside the bedroom door, whining and waiting for someone with hands to come along and open the door.

Eventually one of us human types does. But we say “stay,” and she stays—usually. The one time I forgot to say “stay,” she was in the bedroom faster than I could say, “Do I really have to tell you every time?”

Next thing I knew, the dog was chasing the cat and I was chasing the dog. The cat was hissing, the dog was barking, I was screaming, and the bird was singing cheerfully, happy the door was closed, the block was in place and, for the moment at least, no one was trying to swallow him.

 

(Dorothy Rosby is the author of the humor book, I Didn’t Know You Could Make Birthday Cake from Scratch: Parenting Blunders from Cradle to Empty Nest. Contact drosby@rushmore.com.)

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