Stroking Google May Lower my Blood Pressure

Pam Linn

Yikes! Google just landed in my lap. No, not that Google. This one is feline and presently kneading my legs, hopelessly entangling her claws in the green fleece tunic that keeps my temperature above freezing. 

I have agreed to house-sit, dog-sit and cat-sit for my daughter Betty so she can join her sister and the rest of the family in California over spring break. 

This promise was made before I broke my arm, which is now in a brace, two weeks into a six-week repair of the radius and ulna, both of which sustained hairline fractures while preventing a face-plant. And, no, I didn’t slip on the ice, which still clings to sidewalks and roadways where I live here in Bozeman, Mont. It was just your basic klutz move in the living room of my elder-safe apartment. Go figure. 

Anyway, before leaving, Betty gave me the house tour because it had been almost two years since I had stayed with her animals. Same dog, different cat. She said at least 12 times, “Don’t trip on the cat.” 

Google, it turns out, is sweet-natured if somewhat needy, with a disconcerting habit of lying down directly in front of one’s feet. Crouching silently and almost invisibly on the dark hardwood floor, she is a disaster waiting to happen. Before making a move I look both ways and repeat the mantra: Don’t trip on the cat. 

Hershey, on the other hand, is as big as a donkey so the odds of tripping over him are slim. 

I remember when Betty first rescued him from the local animal shelter. She was told his original owners had turned him in because, at 10 months, he had grown beyond their ability to cope. He’s brown, hence the name. It was either Hershey or UPS, and Betty was hoping for sweet. 

For the first few months even she, who has trained dozens of animals for film work, thought she’d made a mistake. Obstreperous (“stubbornly difficult to control”) would be an understatement. That puppy nature, compounded by his size, made him a handful for Betty, who barely weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet after polishing off a five-course meal. 

But with excellent training and a few years, Hershey mellowed out. In fact, he just returned from a week’s work on a movie job where he proved to be a star. Who would have guessed? 

Anyway, I don’t have to walk him or anything, so basically it’s just Google that I have to worry about. 

She has her food, water and litter box in the laundry room, and a four-tiered climbing thing covered with carpet for clawing and hiding. And in the master bedroom she has a plush kitty bed that she uses during the day. At night, however, she feels free to join me on the king-sized bed, curling as close as possible to my wounded arm. This does make sound sleep a challenge. 

The past decade is the longest I’ve ever been without a dog and I do miss them all. But cats, not so much. When I was a child I had a Siamese cat that was supposed to be my pet. One day it ran amok, screaming and running up the drapes. My mother called her friends to come and get it down from the ceiling. They took it home, and after a day or two it calmed down and so they kept it. This left me feeling slighted in some way and I developed an allergy to Siamese cats. From then on, it was just dogs for me. 

Now, after just four days, Google thinks she’s my best bud or BFF (as the kids text, meaning Best Friends Forever). 

Betty told me it was okay to let her out but until this morning I was reluctant to do that. Around 9 a.m., she sat in front of the door meowing so strenuously that I couldn’t resist her pleas for freedom. Then after bolting out, she sat directly beside the door where she remained an hour later. She just turned around, stared at me through the glass and made plaintive sounds so I let her back in. Where have I gone wrong? 

Hershey has dragged his cushion down the front steps and is sitting contentedly on it contemplating whatever dogs think of when they’re not being asked to do something. The only trouble with that is a pending storm, which will soak the cushion until it weighs more than its occupant. I’m sure I won’t be able to drag it back up the steps. Oh, well. 

When the snow starts to fall, Mutt and Jeff will curl up beside me wheezing and purring as I stroke their coats. I’ve read that cuddling pets can lower one’s blood pressure so it must be a good thing. At least for the rest of the week.