Taking the pets with us to India was a harrowing experience, to be sure, but we are very glad to have them here. The companionship they offer us in this strange place is invaluable. Beauty sleeps with Addie every night, keeping her company and helping her get over her fear of the dark. Addie has a lot of trouble sleeping, and I regularly find her cocooned in her blankets, dripping with sweat, while trying to hide from whatever it is that is frightening her. I remember doing the same when I was a kid, so I can sympathize. Luckily, Beauty is there to protect her, they have begun sleeping together each evening. As you can see from the picture, it is a good thing that Scott got Addie such a big bed, as Beauty takes up a good portion of it. I was able to take this picture without either of them waking up.
Beauty provides me with a feeling of protection as well. Though I know she is a wuss who wouldn’t hurt a fly, no one else knows that, and many people here are really afraid of dogs. People regularly cross the street so they don’t have to walk near her. They won’t dare open my gate when she is outside, even if she is busy wagging and drooling happily at them. So, when a stranger rings the doorbell, or comes to the gate at an odd hour, I make sure that Beauty accompanies me outside. Everyone is always very nice to me.
Likewise, the cats have been my constant companions, which has been very important for me with Scott travelling so much. They sleep with me each night and tiger will sit in my lap for hours if I let him. They provide Beauty with a fun distraction (and occasionally a scratched nose), and are a big hit with the neighborhood kids. I rest easier with them in the house, because any strange noise in the night can be attributed to being “just the cats”. Without them I’d be running all over the house during the night searching for the source of every creak and thump. The kids adore them, and more than once I have found Tres in a pretty doll dress or snazzy kitty sweater with a look of utter contempt on her face. Still, she goes back for more again and again, because she loves her Addie.
However, my little furballs do present a few problems here. Food is definitely an issue. Though I know I should get off my lazy butt and start making my own dog and cat food, I haven’t yet, and we are still trying to buy it. I have enough issues trying to cook for us! Dog food can be found at the local store. Large bag, 1 type, $25 bucks. Very VERY expensive. Scott started out by buying the vegetarian stuff, which he discovered was easier to come by, but Beauty stubbornly refused to become a vegetarian and instead decided to go on a hunger strike until Scott gave in and found her the meaty stuff. Hmmmm, kind of sounds like my kids, come to think of it.
Cat food is even more difficult. Regular stores don’t carry that at all, and we finally found it, again 1 type and ridiculously expensive, in a store called Q-mart. Q-mart is a grocery store that caters to expats. They have shipped in a wide variety of items from all over the world to give expats a taste of home. Of course, this comes at a price…if you find that you absolutely need some pop tarts and don’t mind paying $8 a box, then, by all means, go ahead and shop there. I, personally, won’t go there again unless I get really REALLY desperate. So, while we snagged 1 bag of food for them, an alternative needed to be found.
Perhaps the biggest problem we faced was the cat litter. Since people don’t generally keep cats as pets here, and certainly not indoors, cat litter is nearly non-existant. We brought a box with us when we came, but I could only make that last so long before things got rather nasty and Addie (who has the cat box in a little room off of her room), began begging for mercy. She even went so far as to create warning signs to remind people to stay away from the “cat room”.
After looking in several places and asking around, I was nearing desperation. I began considering ripping up newspapers, using bags of rice (certainly cheap and easy to find here!) or “borrowing” buckets of sand from nearby construction sites, but none of those really appealed to me, and they certainly wouldn’t help with the odor problem.
Luckily for the cats (and Addie), I came across an ad in the expat magazine for a veteranarian/pet store near the children’s school. Bonanza! Many MANY types of dog food, toys, bones, etc. and a whopping 3 types of cat food and 2 types of litter! Hey, we even got the fancy French kitty litter, though I doubt it will smell like a “fleur” to me! Meaty food for Beauty and toiletries for the cats, and a veterenarian on the premisis to boot. After one visit, I implored the driver to commit the place to memory, as I knew we would be frequent visitors.
Of course, the vet clinic kind of looks like an open barn, with each stall being an exam room, with dirt floors and concrete counters, but beggers can’t be choosers. They should be able to give the pets their shots when needed, and we can only hope that we find no other reason to need their services. I did see two dogs with lampshades around their necks coming out of there, so I know that they do surgeries.
Unfortuntely for the cats (and for Addie), the cat litter leaves a lot to be desired. No nice little smelly crystals, minimal clumping capabilities, no plastic scoop. So, I got her a big spoon and an air freshener… I’m generous that way.