The Rockwood Files: Pet Bullies

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Sometimes I feel like I’m being bullied in my own home – by the pets. I’m bigger than they are, so how is it that they always seem to get their way? I should be controlling them – not the other way around.

If cats could tell time, I would get our cat Percy a reliable Timex and strap it on her furry leg. Because when the sun goes down, Percy starts performing a barrage of harassing “feed me” reminders. She’s afraid I’ll forget to crack open her nightly can of Fancy Feast before I go to bed.

I don’t go to bed until 10 or 11 p.m., but Percy starts the reminders around six o’clock. That’s at least four hours of being stalked by a loud, insistent cat. And if percy the greatI stand still for more than a few seconds, she weaves in and out of my legs in an obvious attempt to trip me and cause me bodily harm.

One time last week, I came upstairs after dark to change a load of laundry, but Percy must have assumed I was turning in for the night while her food bowl was still empty. You can imagine her feline outrage. Just as I rounded the corner with a full laundry basket in hand, she came at me in a sideways galloping run with her back bowed up and her tail bushed out – trying to make herself as big and scary as possible. If that’s not a direct cat threat, I don’t know what is.

Sometimes I think that, if I were to skip a few nights of her beloved Fancy Feast, she might smother me in my sleep just to teach me a lesson.

I wish I could say the dog is sweeter than the cat, but he is just as manipulative – although he uses a different approach. The trouble started after I bought Charlie a doggie bowtie that fastens onto his collar. It’s funny and makes him look as ironically dignified as a Beagle can look, but obviously the fancy new style is going straight to his head.

Suddenly he’s too good for his dog bed on the floor, and he has learned to use those puppy dog eyes as a weapon. He plays the “sweet and pitiful card” until he gets exactly what he wants. And what he wants is to execute a hostile takeover of our king size bed.

One night, in a moment of weakness, I let him get on the bed, and he has never been the same since. Now, he sprints for the bedroom and bounds up onto the bed. He sticks his nose under the edge of the comforter and roots his way under the covers until he reaches the foot of the bed. Then he burrows into his own little Beagle cave and snores softly all night, dreaming of squirrels and table scraps.

I worry sometimes that he’ll suffocate under there, but he sleeps just fine, only coming up for air when one of us accidentally sticks a foot into his personal space. And speaking of personal space, Charlie takes up a lot of it.

He’s a small dog, the runt of his litter, but he stretches out all four of his spindly legs until he has occupied nearly half the space – which just goes to prove that old saying: “If you give a dog an inch, he’ll take your whole bed.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love these little hairy beasts, which is why I tolerate their shenanigans. But sometimes I can’t help but notice that the word “pets” is only one letter away from the word “pests.” Coincidence? You decide.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography