2016-02-24 / Here's the Scoop / Columns

Here's The Scoop: February 24, 2016

Travel preparation

I was recently called away on an important business trip — the News’ latest feature — firsthand coverage of spring training. It was a tough assignment, but I volunteered. Taking one for the team is how I looked at the situation. By definition, the spring training destination was a warm one. Although this winter has been uncommonly mild, traveling in a southerly direction would still result in preparing for a different climate.

My packing included two pairs of shorts and a handful of T-shirts. I threw in my glove and some spikes — just in case one of the teams was in need of a veteran pitcher. There would be no need for suntan lotion. That’s not because it was a work trip. No, it’s pretty much guaranteed that when I travel in winter to a warm climate, rain and “unseasonably cool” temperatures will dominate. Until the day I leave.

Anyhow, with the packing taking approximately two and a half minutes, the easy part was complete. Now I could concentrate on preparing the cat for our absence. That was the hard part.

Needs her own column

Our cat, Holly, gets quite a bit of press in this space. And rightfully so. She’s a perfect blend of arrogance and neediness. Whenever we leave for longer than a workday, the neediness becomes her dominant trait.

“She’s a cat,” my wife is fond of reminding me.

“One with feelings,” I respond.

Because of my keen instincts into feline psychology, I take great pains to ensure Holly won’t know we’re leaving until shortly before our departure time. Despite this, she knows.

Still, I give this secrecy a good effort. I sneak the litter box into its designated, “We’re going away and we want to make life easier for our cat-takers” place. I put on the lights that Holly prefers be left on a night. I leave extensive notes for the cat-takers. Many notes. And I follow these up with emails and calls to make sure that all of Holly’s weird traits are known. My weird traits, too, as I’ve been told.

Dual personality

Because Holly is such a balanced mix of snootiness and “Hey, I need more petting,” we have found that she prefers a house sitter when we’re away. This idea works well all around — it’s good for Holly and great for me! Several friends who have watched Holly even send us videos of her actions while we’re away. It’s nice seeing her having fun — as long as she doesn’t have too much fun! After all, pet owners such as myself (obsessive may be an appropriate description) don’t want to feel like they weren’t really missed. Plus, I’m generally the provider of breakfast, dinner and treats — the latter being the most important.

Naturally, I make sure that our cat-takers are aware that treats are a secret weapon that can used to: A. Lure Holly back inside after her hunting adventures and, B. Make Holly forget all about her usual servants.

As much as Holly takes some getting used to cat-takers — even people who visit on a regular basis — all reports are that she usually comes around and gets back her to old, semifriendly self after a short adjustment period. Me, I take a bit longer to adjust to life without Holly being around. Until, of course, the business part of trip ends and it’s time for some people treats. Eating these treats on a beach is my preferred location — even if the rain makes them a bit soggy. — Brian Sweeney

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