Yes, I did that deliberately. This post might (might? hell it will) involve strong language. Anyone who has moved across country with a menagerie of critters will understand.
In July 2002, we packed up our house in Salt Lake City to return east so my husband could begin his academic career and I could start law school. At the time, we had one car, a Subaru Outback, and a plan. My husband would drive the rental truck stuffed to the brim with all of our crap and I would drive the car stuffed with all of the critters. Certainly, this was not ideal but we really had no other choice. The idea was that the seats would be folded down and a large enclosure such as this
would hold the three cats and Finnegan could stretch out in the back.
I should have known this trip was going to be a disaster when Mr. Stinny, who was freaked out by the fact that all the furniture was gone, peed on our down comforter the night before we left. After washing the blanket the best I could, I had a restless night of sleep and woke up sad with the realization that I was leaving a city and people who I had grown to love. Not just sad, sobbing sad and tired. A great combination for what lay ahead for me.
Because cats do not generally enjoy car travel, I obtained some kitty sedatives from our veterinarian for the trip. I gave all three of the cats (we did not adopt Shrimpycat until 2 years later) their drug about a half hour before our departure time. Still teary, I put a drowsy Mr. Stinny in the carrier. Next, I grabbed Donald who at this point was pissed. Of course, because I was teary, I did not fully comprehend the extent of Donald's pissiness.
Let me just give you a brief background of Donald: he's crazy. And he has opposable thumbs. And he becomes a psychopath when given sedatives. In other words, he has the opposite reaction.
I grabbed Donald and put him in the carrier with sweet blind Mr. Stinny and all HELL broke loose. Donald started screaming and hissing. Before I had a chance to react, he grabbed Mr. Stinny with his big paws and held him as a hostage. Poor Mr. Stinny was too stoned to react so I tried to defend him. Every time I reached into the carrier Donald would swat at me. In turn, I would swat back in an effort to focus his attention on me rather than Mr. Stinny.
Did I mention I was parked on the street? Where people were walking by? And staring?
Donald was hissing and screaming and so was I. Finally, I wrangled Mr. Stinny out of Donald's clutches and ran him inside. At this point, I realized Donald would be riding in the privacy of his own carrier. Every time I tried to grab Donald with a towel, he would scream and hiss and swat and try to bite. In return, I started shouting:
"FINE! YOU WANT TO STAY IN SALT LAKE CITY? YOU F*CKING WANT TO STAY HERE! FINE!"
No, I was not rational but this screaming fit was through a steady stream of tears, now a result of my complete and utter frustration with the situation. After trying different approaches, I finally grabbed Donald, pulled him out of the carrier, and put him in his own private carrier.
But wait there's more! I did not get him out of the carrier before he took a nice bite out of my hand. Not just a little nip, I nice big juicy chomp that I swear to God bled until the Wyoming border. After this pleasant encounter with one of my cats, we got the other two stoned cats in the carrier and Finnegan in the back seat. Donald rode with my husband in the front of the truck while I applied pressure to my new gushing wound on our way out of the city. By this point, I was seriously contemplating taking one of those kitty tranquilizers.
We did not make it far. At the first rest area, we stopped to repack the back of the truck because it was weighted too heavily on one side and the rear tire was smoking. Safe. After a half hour, we set off again into Wyoming and through its rolling hills. Did I mention the rolling hills? That caused the truck to overheat? And resulted in my husband rolling down the windows and blasting the heat? Obviously, this did not work well for Donald and he began to pant. Again we stopped and transferred Donald from the truck to the back of my air conditioned car next to Finnegan.
Both critters had plenty of room and yet, Donald did not agree. Any time Finnegan would shift his weight, Donald would lunge to the front of the carrier and scream and hiss at Finnegan. After an hour of shift, HISS! SCREAM! CRASH!, Finnegan had glued himself to a small portion of the back and as far away as possible from the furry little psychopath.
So yet again, we stopped and moved Donald into the front seat next to me. The unexplained screaming and hissing finally slowed down to a grumble but any time I changed the radio station or flipped over a cassette, he screamed and hissed to make sure I hadn't forgotten about the terror that is Donald. After this pleasant experience with sedatives, Donald did not receive any more ever again never ever ever. EVER! Later on when I told my veterinarian about this experience, she mentioned something about him having impulse control issues. Um, yeah.
He did remain my front seat companion and was rather pleasant the rest of the trip.
Mr. Stinny, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. He was petrified. Frozen with fear. I worried that Mr. Stinny would have a cardiac arrest from all the stress. I learned how to lift myself up enough and tilt the rear view mirror just in the right position so I could keep a mama's watchful eye on him. If I couldn't get a good view of him or I thought he was too still, I fashioned a patented poking device out of three or four straws that I would use to poke him to make sure he was still alive. Sure enough, he would make a little "Meh" noise and that would satisfy me for the next hour. This went on for the next three days.
Our trip took us through Boulder, Colorado to visit friends and then off to lovely Junction City, Kansas. Because we were traveling with a small zoo, we decided it would be best to find a motel with exterior rooms. Folks find it odd to see a small llama walking through their lobby for some reason. Don't ask me why. My husband, being the frugal person that he is, found a motel that had exterior rooms and was cheap!! Very cheap!
We found our room with such amenities as a bed and working toilet and settled the cats in with their litter box. By the way, even if you offer a litter box in the carrier during a long drive, cats, or at least my cats, will hold it until they are on solid ground. Then, I took Finnegan for a walk around the motel. As we were walking, we ran into the maintenance man and friend who were drunk off their asses and making a lovely meal of hot dogs on a hibachi. They must have been on their second case of beer because one of them slurred:
"I love dogs!"
"Me too!" the friend said.
"What kind of...of (pause) dog is that?"
"He's an Irish Wolfhound" I said while trying to hurry Finnegan along. Well the sound of a friendly voice and grilled hot dogs stopped Finnegan right in his tracks.
"I love dogs!"
"Me too!" the friend said, again.
"Boy, he's a big one. I had German Shepards growing up. They're big"
"That's nice" I replied, using my full body weight to pull Finnegan from these two characters.
"I'm the maintenance man," one of the men said while pausing for a gulp of beer, "So if you need anything just let us know. You want a beer or hot dog?"
Aside from being the maintenance man, he was also the motel cook and bartender! How luxurious!
"Um no, thanks anyway. Have a good night," I said as I finally convinced Finny to keep moving.
I swear as a I walked away I heard: "I love dogs" "Me too!"
The rest of our trip was uneventful. Donald did not misbehave again, with the small exception of peeing in his carrier when we stopped at the rest stop. Mr. Stinny survived and forgave me for putting him in the carrier with Evil Donald and poking him with a straw for three days . Finnegan tolerated the trip and enjoyed all of the attention he received at the rest areas. He was, as usual, a good boy and an excellent travel companion.
As you might have noticed, I did not mention Lilliputian because she was the star of the trip. She comforted Mr. Stinny and only made her loud meezer noises when I said her name in the car, which was nice at hour 17 of our third night of driving when I started hallucinating. So I will leave this exhausting story with a picture of the Queen Siamese:
Labels: The Story of Finnegan