The Accidental Adventures of Duck
In my household, we have certain chores set up on the days we spend together as family. Out of all the chores that we perform every weekend, Bug's favorite is cleaning out Duck's cage. Hands down, she has been the hamster that he has loved the most and wants to spoil. In fact, he sometimes brings fruit or veggies for her from the farm he works on and makes sure I have extra pieces of cloth for 'blankies.' He is very insistent on fancy food so that he can give her a huge amount of food and extra peanuts on the side- peanuts are her very favorite food. Within minutes of his arrival on Sundays, Bug is begging to clean her cage. So we settle on the living room floor with her cage between us and I clean the cage while he holds Duck. She is almost two years old so this ritual has played itself out well over 100 times as twice weekly we kneel on the floor with her cage between us and we clean but also play and hug her. Yes, she actually doesn't mind gentle hugs. She is just a good lady.
For the last few years I have reminded Bug that Duck's safety outside the cage when he is playing with her and I am cleaning her cage is his responsibility. It's a very important responsibility as Duck lives in a household of cats. Sometimes I have to remind Bug to be more careful, but usually he is very astute about the dangers and keeps her close and safe. Today, we finally had the problem we have been avoiding. It was partially Brock's fault as he allows Minion to get to close fairly often. Minion always seems so calm and laid back and shows no interest in what is happening during this process. So while I cleaned today, neither Bug nor I thought much of Minion coming over and plopping himself down on the ground near us. I was almost done cleaning when Bug decided to let Duck lean close to Minion so they could check each other out. Before I could reach out, Minion had moved so quickly that in less than a second and laid off, peacefully snoozing cat was on all fours with Duck hanging out of his mouth. Bug screeched and I had grabbed Minion by the scruff. Duck was squeaking and failing about and as I held tight to Minions scruff he dropped her the last few inches onto the floor. And before I could reach out with my other hand to pick her up, Rob was there and Minion was whisked away in a whirl of fur and growls. I quickly enfolded Duck in my hands and moved her back to her cage.
After a few hours of 'rest', I brought her back out of her cage for a thorough examination She appears to have no physical affects from her adventure and didn't seem really bothered by being removed from the cage again today... that seems either very kind of her or too trusting as we have broken that trust today. After a strong talking to and a new set of rules for continued play with Duck in the future, I think we are back on track for our ritual to continue. And yet, something has changed today that can't be ignored. While her cage has never been very interesting before to my feline companions, it clearly has become a new focal point.
All of us survived our adventures today and I am truly grateful. However, the feeling I felt when she was hanging from Minion's teeth is one that felt horrible. I felt fear and pain and as I look at her now in my hand I feel failure and regret. I slipped up and she could have been seriously hurt today. I don't think I'll lose the feelings of fear and the need for hyper-vigilance soon. (My brain keeps hearing the words of 'Mad Eye' Moody - you need to practice constant, unceasing vigilance.) As I said before, I have so much to be grateful for today.