I love it when a plan comes together
Some people are dog people. I get it because I have a dog and I love her to death. She is always happy to see me when I get home from work. She loves to snuggle up in bed, lie on the couch and watch TV, go for long walks, and play in the back yard. She is a great dog and I wouldn’t give her up for any amount of money.
Of course, some people are cat people. Cats are annoying as hell. Cats climb on the dinner table when you are trying to eat. Cats will stare you down when you get home from work, looking at you as if you have arrived to ruin a perfect good day without you being home. Cats will lie on top of your head while you are trying to go to bed. Cats are a pain the ass. Even with all of this I’m a cat guy, and I love my cat Pigface.
Pigface, or Pig for short, came into my life at just the time I needed him. I was going through a terribly depressing period in my life, living alone in Charlottesville, Virginia. My now ex-wife and I had separated and we were well on the way to getting divorced (no tears for this as it turned out for the absolute best because now I have an amazing partner in Rizzo and a wonderful daughter in Cece). My basic routine was to wake up, go to work, go home to sit in a barely furnished two bedroom house, mindlessly watch TV while sitting in a red folding camp chair (I told you, barely furnished), go to bed, then wake up and do it all over again. Sound pretty great, right (can you hear the sarcasm)?
In the summer of 2008 I was doing some accounting work for the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA. As my coworkers and I were packing up for the end of the day the Executive Director walked in and asked if anyone would be willing to take 4 newborn kittens home for the night. They were less than a day old, had been abandoned by the mother, and the SPCA was looking for a short term solution. Maybe it was the thought of spending another night alone in a darkened living room eating a frozen meal and watching The West Wing again that made me say I would take the kittens. Maybe I just finally needed some sort, or any sort of change.
So off we went; me and 4 kittens that were literally the size of a fun-size Snickers bar. I didn’t realize until after I had said yes how much work this was going to be. The SPCA gave me special formula that I had to feed the kittens every 1-2 hours using an eye dropper. It was going to be a night very similar to some of the early nights with a newborn baby, except with a newborn baby you have a built in alarm clock. I wasn’t going to be hearing any screaming babies to remind me to get up and feed these little kittens.
The night turned out to be much harder than I anticipated. I was up all night trying to feed and care for all these helpless kittens. It started out fine but as the night went on one kitten would stop taking the eye dropper of formula. Then another. Then another. I kept trying to give them food but before long the breathing of the kitten got shallow. The kitten would start shivering so I would hold it close to my body to try and keep it warm. I would talk to the little kitten and pet it and try to give it more food. I don’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure it was about two hours between the time the kitten would stop taking formula and the time the kitten would die in my hands.
I had three defenseless kittens die in my hands in one night. I was told the next day that it is common in kittens that are abandoned by the mother and it is sort of the equivalent of SIDS but for kittens. I cried a lot that night for each one of those poor little kittens that never got to have a good home but I couldn’t mourn for too long because there was still one kitten that was hanging on. He slowed down in the amount of formula he would take but he never stopped eating. He would start shivering but he would never give up. He would get some shallow breathing but he always calmed down eventually and started meowing up a storm. He was too stubborn and mean to allow this kitty SIDS to take him down. That kitten, my friends, is the Pigface.
I sadly don’t remember the names of the three kittens that I lost, but I remember Pigface’s original name because the SPCA let me continue to foster him until he was ready to be adopted. The SPCA had named this little orange guy Piglet. I’m not really sure why because he doesn’t look like a piglet at all but you know how animal naming goes. For months I continued to feed this little dude and he got bigger and bigger and meaner and meaner. Well, he got meaner towards other people but never towards me. There will be more on his meanness a bit later.
About six months passed of this little orange furball living with me and the time had finally come to give him the old snip and get him prepped adoption. I’d grown rather fond of having a little guy around the house to see when I got home from work and I’m sure it became quite obvious to everyone that I’d eventually adopt Piglet and make him part of the family. I was travelling a lot for work at the time so I kept hesitating but at the strong urging of my family and the SPCA I officially adopted Piglet in January of 2009 as sort of a birthday present to me.
The first order of business was to do something about this name. Piglet just wasn’t an appropriate name for this little bastard. When you hear Piglet you think of a nice, calm, loving little animal that just wants to be your best friend. That is everything that Pig is not. In our six months I had learned that Pig hated most people. Friends would come over and he would growl like a dog or make other unearthly noises that don’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard. He would attack your feet and legs. He would snarl and his and launch himself at you. Piglet was an asshole. A name like Piglet just wouldn’t do.
I couldn’t just change his name to something like Bruiser or Butch or Tiger or Shithead because he had been called Piglet since the day he was born (yes I do understand it is a cat and he wouldn’t have remembered his name was once Piglet but this was still my logic so shut up about it). I’d have to find a cool name that included Pig or let. I just happened to be watching a few episodes of The A Team when the perfect name struck me like Mr. T’s gold-ring covered knuckles struck so many bad guys. Pigface. Pig for obvious reasons, and Face since Face is my favorite The A Team character and Pig is such a handsome fella (yes, I am a 35-year-old male so shut up about it). Why not just shove the two names together and create (1) the greatest name of all time, Pigface, and (2) create an interesting story on how Pigface got his name. Henceforth, this tiny little jerk of a cat was known as Pigface (even though now we usually just call him Pig which I’m sure will cause some real problems the more we teach Cece about animals. “Hey Cece, what sound does a pig make?” “Grrrrrrr, bark bark, grrrrrrr.” “No Cece, that is the sound The Pig makes, not a pig.”)
Pig and I only stayed in Charlottesville for a few months before we relocated to our bachelor pad in booming Stafford, VA. Pig and I ran that town, if by run the town you mean ordered Chinese take-out and watched movies in our tiny one bed room apartment. Even though it was tiny, Pigface helped make my apartment a home. He would be relaxing in the window when I left to go to work and when I came home I would plop down on the couch (yes, at this point I had a couch) and Pig would climb up in my lap for a little TV watching time. After TV watching we would get in a workout and by that I mean Pig would rear back on his hind legs with his front legs up in the air and we would box. He usually won the bout but only by TKO. After all, I have the weight advantage. We were partners in crime but it wouldn’t be long before Pig would have to deal with others in the apartment.
As I mentioned before, Pig is not a kindly sprite of a cat but rather a mean grumpy old bastard of a cat. That being said, it was only a few months after Pig and I moved into our bachelor pad that I met the fantastic Alison Rizzo (you know, Rizzo). We were soon lovers (hahaha, how creepy did you feel reading that?) and Rizzo would often make the unenviable trek south on I-95 on a Friday afternoon. I don’t recall specifically the first time that Rizzo met Pig, but I imagine it went something like this:
Rizzo: Hi Pigface!
Pig stares at Rizzo from the doorway to the bathroom
Rizzo: He is just staring at me.
Me: He is just making sure you are ok.
Rizzo: I’m not going to hurt you (walking towards Pig to pet him)
Me: That may not be the best idea.
Pig: GRRRRRRR YEAAAAOOOOOO GRRRRRR HISSSSSSSS (the written word can’t do this justice as he very much sounds like an alien)
Rizzo (being brave): It’s ok.
Me: I wouldn’t do that.
Pig slashes and swipes at Rizzo outstretched hand, drawing blood. Rizzo draws back and Pig runs into the bedroom and hides under the bed but continues to sound like a creature from the black lagoon.
Me: I told you it wasn’t a good idea.
Rizzo: He is a jerk.
Me: I know, but I love him.
I’m lucky that Rizzo continued to visit given the attack of the terrorist cat but she did and I’m forever grateful that she braved the dangers of a staying in a one-bedroom apartment with what, to an outside observer, appeared to be a feral cat. About a year after that first visit from Rizzo is when Rizzo found and fell in love with a little puppy named Ellie (with your help we can convince Rizzo to write a guest blog post telling the “Bellie Story”). The regular visits Rizzo would make to our apartment now also included Bellie. Bellie, and Rizzo for that matter, was quickly taught that Pig was dominant regardless of the fact that Bellie is 4 times the size of Pigface. Pig would chase Bellie around the apartment, smack her in the face, and generally torture her. The good news was that Bellie never yelped when Pig was punching her. He never used his claws, just his pads. This is important because it was telling Bellie and us that Pig didn’t hate her per se, he just wanted to be left alone. We were lucky that Bellie and Pig started as strangers, quickly became frienemies (friend/enemy), then turned into the perfect big brother/little sister relationship. Although it has never been tested, I’m convinced that Pig has the mentality that he would fight anyone who tried to hurt his little sister. You know the idea of “I can beat her up all I want but if you touch her I will tear you apart”.
Bellie isn’t the only little sister in the house. Pig got to meet her new little sister, Cece, on May 5, 2015 when we came home from the hospital. I did some advanced planning and made sure that my Dad took one of Cece’s blankets from the hospital by the house so both Pig and Bellie could get the scent of the new baby. The moment we walked in the door Pig was trying to defend his baby. Make no mistake about it, Cece is his baby. Pig was going crazy and lashing out at my Mom the moment we got home. This terror was short lived and once we had settled in Pig was nothing but love towards Cece. He would watch over her and snuggle with her before she was mobile. Once she was mobile he was calm and understanding, something he isn’t with any other person he has ever met, even me. Cece has learned to give Pig nice pets but sometimes she is still mischievous and will grab his tail. Anyone else he would punch or bite but with Cece he just walks away. I will say that the more active Cece becomes the more Pig will smack at her, but I have never been afraid of Pig attacking Cece. Not once.
Pigface runs our house. Rizzo things she is in charge but believe me, if Pig tells her to leave the room she is running out of the room. I’d do anything for that little jerk because he has done so much for me. He is, indeed, a good man.
P.S. It occurs to me that this seems like Pig has died. He hasn’t. Dude may have lost a few teeth to surgery and gained a few pounds as he gets older, but he certainly hasn’t slowed down. He is as big a jerk as ever.