The Secret Lives of Pets
by Kelly Marino
I live in a fabulous house with a caring mom, a responsible dad, 3 playful kids, 6 colorful fish, 1 talking bird, and my best friend in the whole wide world: a delightful kitty cat who loves me as much as I love her. Each and every day, she smiles at me and makes silly hissing sounds. She pretends to hate me, but I know it’s all a big game.
She loves to play-fight, and swats at my tail every time I turn around. Like me, she’s into the rough and tumble stuff. That’s why she’s so fun. That’s why we get along so well!
Right now, she’s taking a nap in the hallway at the top of the stairs, but I’m afraid something is terribly wrong with her. She’s breathing heavily and her paws are twitching. She must be having another one of those bad dreams. I know I should wake her up, because if I don’t, the nightmare could scar her for life.
I am lying down, stretched out on my back, in a beautiful sunlit meadow, surrounded by several trees, dozens of birds, and hundreds of field mice. I have my pick of the 4-legged morsels, and I’ve got all the time in the world. I decide that the big brown and white mother-mouse will be first, but not before I wolf down her bite-sized babies—those luscious, little appetizers! There are 12 of them in all, and my belly will be gloriously full, for once! It’ll be as easy as taking tuna fish from a kitten. Eating their mommy will be the catnip on top!
I wonder if I should toy with them for a little while first and have some fun. Yeah, right. Who am I kidding? I’ll wait for momma to corral them into a mousy bundle so they can get one last meal—and fatten up a bit. Why chase them all over the place if I don’t have to?
Silently, I roll over and come to my feet, crouched in a stealthy pose. Every nerve in my body is twitching with delight. 1…2…3…POUNCE!
I bounded up the stairs, nice and noisy, and gently grasped kitty’s neck with my mouth. I guess I scared her because she jumped up so high, I almost had to peel her off the ceiling. Then, she tumbled down the stairs and landed gracefully on her feet (I wish she’d teach me how to do that). She must have thought she was still in the middle of that nightmare—a monster was probably chasing her—because she darted under the sofa, growled at me, and refused to come out.
Suddenly, something grabbed me from behind and threw me onto my back, causing me jump up about 10 feet and then fall down the stairs. Thump, thwack, crash! I landed on my feet and took off like a shot into the living room. The big idiot chased me under the sofa, where I growled, hissed, and stayed put. Eventually, he would tire of waiting for me to emerge from my hiding place, and he’d go bother someone else. It wouldn’t take too long; lucky for me, he had the attention span of a strobe light.
I stood there with my bone in front of the sofa for a while, and then I plopped down onto my elbows in a play bow. She knew that I meant no harm when I did that, but she didn’t come out. The poor thing must have been traumatized by that dream. For her protection, I would stay on the floor and stand guard over her, indefinitely, if need be. I wouldn’t budge from this spot for anything. I would stay here as long as it took to make my best friend feel safe again. I would take a bullet for her if I had to. I—
Yay! There’s someone at the door! Probably here to play with me! I hopped to my feet, wagged my tail, and stood patiently as mom opened the front door. The grooming lady walked in, and when she saw me, her face lit up. She was here to groom my best friend and me. She would trim our nails (we loved getting manicures) and she’d give us a warm bubble bath in that cool van she drove to our house.
I licked her hands, sniffed her crotch, and waited for her to return the favor. For some strange reason, she never did. I guess she was a snob that way, but I didn’t care. She loved to come over, and kitty and I relished her attention.
Damn that dog! Why did he have to do shit like that all the time? I wish I’d been given the chance to live with an intelligent dog, instead of this stupid one. He didn’t have a brain in his head, unlike that cool dog on the tube who’s always saving everyone. (What, you think cats don’t watch TV?)
I will soon find a way to kill him, but it will have to be done carefully. And those trampy fish in the tank? I plan to eat them. The smart-ass bird will take some serious planning and execution, but I’m a lot smarter than he is. There’s room for only one pet in this house, and I was here first!
I live life on my own terms and nobody else’s. Got that? I’m the queen of my domain, and I take orders from nobody, least of all from the dopey dog (I mean that big, sloppy, crotch-sniffing, ball-licking, ass kisser). I don’t break a sweat for anyone or anything. Unless, of course, that bitch pet groomer wants to give me a bath in her torture chamber on wheels, or the lady of the house is trying to fool me into hopping into the car for a ride to the Vet (or, should I say, The Marquis DeSade).
Oh, God, that groomer lady just walked in. And the shit head is greeting her with his typical lick, lick, sniff, sniff bullshit. What a tool.
That lady’s not gonna clip my nails or give me a bath today! While Rin-Tin-Tin is fawning all over her, I’ll slink up the stairs and go hide in the closet. Nobody will ever find me. Maybe I’ll take a nap and pick up my dream where I left off. Yeah, that sounds good.
Brush, brush, pat, pat, rub, rub! Ahhhhh. I would walk on broken glass for attention like this. Actually, I don’t think I’d ever be put to that test; the wonderful groomer lady treated me as though I was a king. Who knows? Maybe I was born to rule. Maybe that was why she treated me with such adoration and respect.
As she finished drying my fur coat with that noisy but cool gun-looking thing, I wondered where my best friend was. That bad dream probably messed her head up so badly that she ran upstairs to hide in the closet (that she thinks I don’t know about). I’ve never admitted to her that I can easily sniff out her trail and follow her wherever she goes.
Yeah, she had to be in the closet, hiding from the nightmare. That was OK by me; I would leave her alone for now. I’m sensitive that way.
I licked the groomer lady’s hands and gave her crotch one more sniff before she left for the evening. I was pooped from all the fun, and I needed a nap, too, just like my best friend upstairs. I jumped up on the sofa, twirled around about a half a dozen times, and curled up into a ball. Not quite comfy enough, I stood up and twirled around and around a little bit more, then finally, I plopped down and curled up for good.
Life sure is great. I’m back in the gorgeous sunlit meadow, preparing to pounce on that mouse-mom and those wiggly, pink hors d'oeuvres. Silently, I wind my way through the tall grass, one paw in front of the other. They don’t see me coming. 3, maybe 4 more steps to go…
Wait a minute. What the hell is that smell? Mice don’t reek like that. It reminds me of the time the lady of the house overcooked a roast, and a loud, shrill beeping noise filled the house, along with smoke that stayed in my dainty nose for days on end.
I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m fully awake, my dream is gone, and I can’t move a muscle. Maybe if I just stay put, the smell will go away. Oh shit! That crazy beeping sound is tearing through the house and it won’t stop. I want to dart out of the closet and run downstairs to tell her to get a clue (and some cooking lessons), but my legs won’t move…
I’m running, loping, and galloping. (OK, I’m not loping or galloping. I’m not a horse—OR a greyhound, thank goodness. Let’s just say that I’m running, and we’ll leave it at that). My mind is fuzzy and I think I’m dreaming, but a cute squirrel has invited me to chase him up a tree. The problem is, I can’t climb and follow him. (Hey, I don’t have thumbs. What can I say?) He looks down at me from a branch that’s just out of reach and sticks his tongue out at me. I guess that’s the rule of the game. No problem, I love games! Anyway, I wag my tail and bark at him, beckoning him to come back down and play with me.
With a twitch of his tail, he climbs ever higher and disappears into the leaves. Oh, wait. He’s doing a Cirque du Soleil across the telephone wire that’s stretched between our house and the one next door. God, I hope he doesn’t fall. I can’t do CPR. (I don’t have thumbs, remember? Do you even need thumbs to perform CPR?)
Uh-oh. Something is wrong. I can smell smoke, but it’s not like the wonderful smoke that swirls through the air when dad takes a giant platter outside and tosses meat into that big fiery metal thing in the backyard. This smell is awful. It makes me wonder if mom forgot to put out one of those smelly candles she’s always lighting. Maybe my best friend can tell me what it is—if I can find her. With all that smoke in the house, my nose is a little ‘off’ right now.
OK, I’m really scared and I don’t know what to do. That horrible smell seems to be after me. Now, on top of the smell and that infernal beeping, I can hear another crazy sound outside. It’s high-pitched, kind of like the alley cats in the middle of the night, and it’s getting louder and louder! The mom and dad are yelling for the kids to follow them outside. I hear 10 feet shuffling frantically down the stairs, and then the door slams. They’ve left me alone with the noisy, smoky monster.
Hold on…the front door just opened, and I think I hear the dog running across the tile floor in the entry. Yes, it is him, and he’s coming back up the stairs. Now he’s pawing at the closet door. Oh! The slim beam of light between the door and the jam has just widened, and I can see his dopey face pop in. Something is clearly wrong, though, because there’s an intensity in his eyes that I’ve never seen before—it’s kind of like the expression in the eyes of that heroic dog on TV. You know, the look he gives the lady whenever that stupid kid falls into the well.
For once, the dog of this crazy household looks serious and, dare I say…intelligent? He turns and starts to walk away, but he stops when he sees that I’m not following him. Can’t he understand that I’m too petrified to move a muscle?
Undaunted, he turns around and stares at me again. Still unable to move, I silently beg him to just leave me here so he can save himself from the smoke and the noise that have taken over the house.
Suddenly, he wraps his mouth around my neck and lifts me up and out of the closet. Wow, I never knew he could be so gentle. Without a second to waste, he carries me down the stairs and out the front door.
Everyone is standing out on the lawn, and some other people appear to be squirting the house with a huge garden hose. It’s all very surreal, but everyone is safe, I’m no longer trapped upstairs, and my new Best Friend For Life is all smiles and kisses.
It’s hard for me to admit that I was wrong (because I never am), but I totally misjudged him. He’s not an incompetent doofus after all!