Thursday, November 29, 2007

Baby Ellie

Sailor here.

Last week in the deep dark middle of the night, Mom answered the phone, laughed and cried, then popped out of bed, running to her dressing room to throw on cold weather running clothes over her pajamas. She started calling me “Uncle.” Zoe stayed in bed, but I, ever vigilant, went with her into the bathroom to make sure she didn’t fall in or fall out or do anything dangerous with her hair dryer. She popped in her eyes and brushed her teeth. I guessed it might be morning, although it didn’t feel like it.

Just as my tummy started yelling for breakfast, Mom called both of us to her, ran downstairs and put us in the dog yard, locking the gate behind us. What was this? Thrown out in the middle of the night with no cookies, no veggie glop, and no sunrise? Zoe told me that all humans are at times crazy and trotted into the doghouse, promptly falling asleep. With a sigh, I crawled in after her, curled up against her furry back, and dozed off, still pondering the imponderable.

Days passed.

Well, actually, only a few hours passed, according to Mom, who reappeared just as the first pink streaks of dawn were visible in the East. I trotted up to her and smelled the strange smells all over her arms and cheek and chest. Something new has come into Mom’s life. Mom gathered us both up and took us inside to feed us breakfast. Then we all climbed the staircase together and went back to bed.

Now what’s up with this?

More days passed. Real days. And one day, it all became clear. Katy and Erik drove into our driveway and took hours to get out of their car, talking in high pitched voices all the while. They ignored me when I swept out the front door in greeting. When I peeked into the back seat of the car, I was amazed. At first, I thought they had brought me a puppy, but they brought something else entirely. From the nest in her portable puppy crate, I saw a small little nose and a rosebud mouth. A tiny foot waved in the breeze. I followed the puppy crate inside and we all had a look.

BabyEllie is human! She smells like herself and her Mom and her Dad. She does not smell like Josie the FatCat or Zoe or me. She does smell a little like my Mom, though, who by now was calling herself “Grammy” and chuckling. BabyEllie was the new smell on my Mom !

Zoe went nuts. She jumped up and poked her nose into Erik’s arms, trying to figure out what he was holding. She licked a foot, she sniffed a hand, she ran around the coffee table and did it all over again. I’ve never seen her so excited, not even when chasing squirrels in the back yard.

“What is this? Huh, huh?” Zoe exclaimed. “Can I sniff it? Can I boop it with my nose? Will it play? Will it run? What is it? Should I be jealous? Huh, huh, huh?”

“It’s a human puppy,” I patiently explained. I have had vast experiences with babies in my former Life Before Life With Mom and I know all about them.

“You’ve really got to be careful, Zoe,” I warned her. “They can be lying there quiet as can be and all of a sudden, they go off like an alarm clock set on Buzz instead of Music. Then everyone comes running, at least in the beginning, to see what you’ve done.”

Zoe didn’t want to be careful. She wanted to prod and nudge and sniff and lick and play. She wanted to learn everything there was to learn about babies in exactly two seconds. That’s how Zoe is. Patience is NOT one of her virtues.

Laughing a little, Mom put Zoe in DownStay. True to form, Zoe popped up. Mom gave her The Eye and held her collar so she could not be a PopUp Dog. Zoe finally relaxed and Erik unwrapped his daughter.

I stood by protectively, but a short distance away. I did not want to be accused of setting off the alarm. Mom seemed to know exactly what she was doing, which was to trade the baby for Zoe’s collar and take BabyEllie in her arms and make funny noises. Katy looked very proud. Erik looked even prouder. Zoe looked on in rapt attention, waiting for something more to happen, like Erik forgetting to hang onto her collar.

Katy, sprightlier than I’ve seen for a long while, went around the corner to the guest room in which Josie the FatCat had been temporarily and suddenly housed. (Josie came home with Mom the day after our Middle of the Night Adventure.) After a bit, Josie poked her head out of the guest room and gave us all a small sniff.

“Oh, the Squawky One returns,” Josie said. “I thought I was on vacation.”

She then vanished under the bed for the rest of the evening.

Katy explained to me that Josie’s eyes get really big and the fur on her tail puffs up when BabyEllie goes off. Well, yeah. Katy said that Josie would probably be much happier with me and Mom and Zoe for a little while. I looked at Zoe’s wide eyes and rapidly waving tail, thought about her pray drive, and respectfully decided to disagree. Another few weeks of playing revolving rooms and closing doors wouldn’t hurt Josie, though. After all, she’s just a cat and is used to these things when she comes to stay.

Abruptly, BabyEllie went off, just as I had predicted, but was quickly stifled by a large part of Katy’s maternal anatomy. I watched from afar, Zoe watched from close-up, and Mom just sat there grinning. Mom smelled almost as excited as she smelled the day she picked me up at the airport and met me for the first time.

Quiet descended upon our house.

Erik put Zoe in her crate and left for a hockey game. Mom fixed dinner for herself and Katy. I dozed by the fire. BabyEllie made faces from inside her portable puppy crate. She certainly is more interesting than television; Mom and Katy watched here throughout evening instead of television.

I think I may actually like BabyEllie; she smells like Family. I have to remember to ask Mom, though, what is “Uncle?”

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