Trucker was in my life just 19 months when we had to move to a new home. With his severe separation anxiety fairly under control, I worried that the move would spur it to worsen.
I was proud of him after one week in the new home and curbing his anxiety while Mom drove off now and then to tend to business. I followed the same procedures I did in the previous house to help ease his stress. I turned on the radio before I left, closed all windows so he didn’t climb out of the screens, covered knobs of exterior doors with childproof covers so he didn’t chew up the knobs, and blocked windows and doors I felt he may chew.
So far, he’s only slightly chewed a front porch door. A friend visited us that afternoon and left minutes before I did. That friend also helped me move. I think Trucker became worried that I was moving again and not coming back.
Since then, I block the front door with a cat condo, baby gate and a basket of his toys before I leave. I try to think like Trucker, and watch what he’s telling me to do.
One thing that specifically upsets him in our new home is my air conditioner that is in an upstairs window. The home does not have central air conditioning, so my landlord keeps a small window unit upstairs in an area that I consider my office. On warm days and nights, I have it running. When I initially moved in, the weather was hot and I pressed the unit’s buttons to adjust it.
The beeping sound that ensued with each press of the button made Trucker crazy. He reacted like he did to a smoke detector beep in the past, or a carbon monoxide detector that sounded when the power went off and came back on.
He goes into panic mode, searching every inch of the room trying to find the source of the noise. Obviously, the sound is like a dog whistle frequency that is nearly out of human hearing range.
On this particular afternoon, Trucker was sleeping in my nearby bedroom when the air conditioner beeped. He dashed into the office whimpering to find the source of the sound.
I explained to him that it was okay and that the sound came from the air conditioner, pointing to it in the window and trying to calm him.
While I was bent over studying the buttons on the air conditioner, a light came on in the room and shifted from low to medium to high setting. Slightly startled, I turned around to see Trucker performing a trick that is new to his repertoire. I paused to watch it continue for a few seconds.
The nearly 60-pound beast had sniffed a small touch-sensitive lamp that I had sitting on the floor nearby. When he nudged the glass shade with his nose in search of the beeping sound, it turned on. So he touched it again and again with his nose and watched the light increase in intensity until it went off. Then he started the fun again.
He did at least two cycles of light switching as I watched him quietly. Then I broke out laughing so hard that he looked at me, smiled and wanted affection for his impressive performance.
I always kept that touch lamp in the attic, figuring that my cats would rub against it and turn it on randomly. But since I moved, I thought that maybe I could find a safe place to sit it. The floor was a temporary placement while I checked to make sure that the light was working.
Trucker, not the cats, was the culprit for turning it on randomly. With many tricks learned before I met him, Trucker continues to show me hidden talents. This lamp-lighting skill will be a fun one to improve upon and perform for guests. He never ceases to astonish me and make me laugh.
Tracy is the parent of an adopted dog named Trucker, an adopted cat named Forest, and two stray cats named Captain Jack Sparrow and Joan of Arc. She’s a professional journalist and the author of “Raising My Furry Children,” to be released in July 2011. Visit her Web site HERE or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.