Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blowing bubbles for the cat

This afternoon Clem decided that she had finally trained the yarn lady to perfection.  It had taken nearly ten months, but what could she expect from a human?  Dogs were easier to train than humans, or at least she'd been told. 

The yarn lady had already known the basics when Clem came to live with her - provide smooshy food, crunchy food and water on a regular basis, and snacks at agreed upon cues.  It took her a day or so to figure out what the cue should be for the snack.  The yarn lady seemed to want her to claw on some funny cardboard tray, so Clem went to the tray, clawed on it and stared at the yarn lady, who obligingly gave her lovely treats. 

The yarn lady had provided her with a variety of toys, and Clem quickly taught her which were the good ones and how they should be played.  Yarn balls were for throwing (by the yarn lady) and chasing (by Clem).  Clem loved to chase the yarn balls.  At first Clem had to bring them to the yarn lady every time, but gradually she trained her so that the yarn lady would get the balls and Clem just waited for her to throw the next one.

As to comfy places to sleep, Clem didn't need to do anything with the yarn lady.    She was given one of the yarn lady's own blankets, all folded up on a chair that she liked to sit on, and the yarn lady even knitted and felted a bright red blankie for her to snooze on, which was very nice in the winter.  Any time a box came into the house or tissue paper, the yarn lady knew to leave it out for Clem to lie in or on, respectively. 

Recently, she'd found that the yarn lady had improved in interpreting her various 'meows'.  She finally figured out the one that meant, "my food bowl is getting a little low, you know" and the "please let me back in the kitchen now" meow. 

Clem's crowning achievement was training the yarn lady to blow bubbles on command.  Clem had never even seen bubbles until recently when the yarn lady pulled out a tiny plastic bottle and magically bubbles came out of the end of it when she breathed on it.  Lots of bubbles that floated and disappeared when she caught them.  They were even more fun than yarn balls, even if they did leave a funny taste on her nose when they popped on it. 

Clem started with staring at them, quickly progressing to batting at them.  Unfortunately that was when the yarn lady stopped making them.  Clem just sat there and stared at her until she took out the bottle and started again.  Next Clem decided to see what would happen if she caught them between her paws.  She stood up on her back legs and grabbed at a bubble.  It popped.  She tried it again.  Maybe her claws were out just a little.  The bubble still popped.  Well, no matter, it was still fun.  The yarn lady kept it up for another five minutes or so, and then told Clem that she was done, but she'd blow more bubbles later. 

Well, time absolutely crawls when you want something to happen.  It seemed like it was days since the yarn lady had blown bubbles, but Clem knew that it wasn't because it wasn't even time for more squishy food.  She curled up in one of her favorite spots - on top of the cable box in front of the television. It was warm, and she didn't obscure too much of the tv screen.  She thought and thought.  How to get the yarn lady to blow more bubbles...maybe knock over the tiny bottle?  No, if it spilled then there would be no more bubbles.  Then she knew what to do.  Clem jumped down onto the living room floor and began leaping as though she were catching bubbles.  She batted at the air and then stood up on her hind paws as though there was a bubble to be caught between them.  She knew the yarn lady was watching - she could see her.  The yarn lady smiled and reached for the bottle saying, "Okay, Clem.  I get the message.  I'll blow more bubbles for you." 

Training was complete. 

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