I don’t know how anyone manages to function in a home without pets.  My two dogs, three cats, and two birds earn their kibble and seed by performing endless tasks around the house.

My macaw, Rhett, is not only decorative, he is a watch bird.  Whenever a car pulls into the driveway he screams to alert us someone is there.  His screaming also ensures we don’t waste too much time talking on the phone or visiting with people who drop by.  Elvis, the cockatiel, brightens up every television show by performing an ear-splitting whistling marathon.

My wardrobe is not complete without the requisite number of pet hairs.  And since I have three cats and two dogs of various colors, it really doesn’t matter what I wear as something will show the hair.  This just goes with the territory in our house.  If I sit on any piece of furniture, I get up with pet hair on my behind.  If I lie on the bed, pet hair will cling to whatever body part was touching the comforter.  And if simply sitting around the house isn’t sufficient in depositing enough fur on my clothes, one or more of the animals often lies across my chest or lap, shedding even more.  There is usually enough extra pet hair on the floors to assemble a small dog—ten minutes after vacuuming.  One would think that with all the shedding, our pets would be bald, but there is always plenty of hair to go around.

Not only do my pets help with my clothes, they also help with my grooming.  While I’m in the shower, my cat, Faith, lies across my towels, keeping them warm for me.  She does, however, get a little miffed when I try to remove a towel from underneath her in order to dry off.  My cat, Jerry, likes to help me with my makeup.  Invariably when I am holding an eyeliner pencil or mascara brush, he hops up on the vanity and head butts my hand.  It’s a wonder I haven’t poked my eye out yet.  While I get dressed, Jerry and his brother, Tom (yeah, I know Tom is probably the least original name for a male cat, but I wanted names that would go together as a pair and my husband wouldn’t let me call them “Chip” and “Dale” as he said it conjured up images of male strippers; while I personally had no problem with that, I was, in fact thinking of cartoon chipmunks) help out by batting at my shoelaces.  Yes, I do know the last sentence is a run-on.

Tom also likes to assist me while I practice the piano by parading back and forth in front of my music.  This teaches me good memorization skills, as well as one-handed technique while I swat him away.  Faith, for her part, sashays in front of the computer screen while I am working.  She forces me to self-edit, as I frequently end up typing gibberish.  Crossword puzzles are made more challenging by Tom lounging on my chest while I try to fill in blanks at arm’s length.  My deteriorating near-sightedness benefits from his attention.

My two dogs, Franny, at five pounds, and Fritz, weighing in at eight, do their part by keeping the yard free of squirrels and scaring away the garbage men who come to steal our trash. The mailman is also on their list of intruders to run off. They help with bed making, as they rearrange the pillows, scratch up the covers, and burrow underneath the blankets until they’re satisfied the bed is perfect.  It is also their job to keep the cats in their places by barking and chasing them when the cats do something foolish like walk into a room.  Any food that falls from the table is immediately vacuumed by my hoover dogs.  In fact we never realized what messy eaters we were until we ate out and surveyed the floor under our chairs.  Fritz will also pre-wash the dishes as I load the dishwasher.  This is okay when I’m loading, but not so much when I’m unloading.  Both Fritz and Franny tend to have difficulty holding their licker, and left up to them, our faces and hands would always be spotless. I would tell you they are the perfect scapegoats for offensive flatulent odors and how they help clean the litter boxes, but that’s too disgusting to bring up in a nice blog like mine—especially when my face has just been licked.