Pet Peeves: Chi and Whess

Dear Readers, We are sadly nearing the end of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves and from this point on it’s 100% cat content – feline friends only. We are pleased to introduce to you, Whess and Chi.

You can’t imagine my delight at finding a pet/human relationship that was not formed online.

I don’t know why exactly, but the fact that Whess (grunt gallery’s curatorial intern) and Chi, (handsome cat), met through mutual friends made me happy. It’s so old school and very unusual nowadays.

I met up with Chi at Whess’s downtown apartment, armed with cat treats which turned out to be completely unnecessary. Chi is an extremely friendly being, who is happy to pop up on your lap and purr. Pretty much the polar opposite of the type of thing I experience at my place. Blackberry thinks of that kind of behaviour as “mushy” or “soft” and she wouldn’t do it if her last treat depended on it. But I digress. And I also plan to interview Blackberry soon, so you will hear all of her (numerous) complaints then.

While I found Whess to be lovely, I spent most of my visit curled up on the bed, feeding treats to Chi. That’s how I learned that he and Whess got together about 6 years ago when Chi’s original owners moved to Australia.

Me: Another snack Chi?

Chi: Don’t mind if I do. Anything else you’d like to chit chat about?

Me: Well, I was wondering if you have any complaints at all? Anything about Whess? Living arrangements? Food?

Chi: As you can see, Whess is just fantastic, however, it took me quite a long time to get them buying the proper type of food. I like GRAVY, the pate cat food is too gummy!

Me: Hmmm, I see……doesn’t sound too awful…..anything else on your little cat mind?

Chi: And I do believe that if a person, who lives with a cat, gets a tattoo, it should really be a picture of the cat! IT SHOULD NOT BE A PICTURE OF SOME STUPID FISH!!

Now I had heard that despite all his charming ways, Chi could be a little intense. I hadn’t realized this intensity would take the form of loud yelling.

Me: Yeah, I see your point, but it’s a nice tattoo.

Chi: NONSENSE. It’s a FISH! So annoying. And what’s with all the TRAVELLING anyway?

Whess is always darting off someplace, leaving me with other people!! And travelling in cars makes me INCONTINENT!!!

Suddenly, I was in pet interviewer heaven, because it seemed as though I had actually found a pet with a few complaints! Oh, joy to the world!

Me: So, actually, Whess is sort of a terrible companion for you? Not too good at all?!

Chi: Are you completely INSANE? Whess took me in when my former people moved to AUSTRALIA! Whess is the kindest, best person I know! I LOVE WHESS!! You must be a cuckoo nut head!

Of course, being called a cuckoo nut head is not exactly unfamiliar territory to me. I just let it bounce right off me, I am made of rubber, you are made of glue, everything you say bounces off of me and sticks right onto you. That’s pretty much my motto.

Chi: I also LOVE Kathleen!! Whess’s friend KATHLEEN! I get so excited when she comes over, I start to hyperventilate!!!

It was around this point in the interview that I noticed a strange habit of Chi’s. You know that sound when you pick up a cat unexpectedly? It’s sort of a squeaky noise similar to accidentally sitting on a bagpipe. Well, Chi is able to make that noise at will, for no apparent reason. He can also make it pretty loud.

Me: Of course …..you do seem to have a lot of love to share…..

Chi: SCREEEEEEEEEECH.

Whess: One time Chi pooped in his cat carrier when we were 20 seconds from our own doorway!

Chi: SCREEEEEECH, DOUBLE SCREEEEEECH! Why tell her that?! It’s MORTIFYING!!

Me: Well now, always best to try to remain calm Chi…..that’s what we cuckoo nutty heads always say…or maybe that’s the British…same thing really…

Whess: Yes, Chi always poops a bit, especially in taxis…..He’s scared of outside, and the sky. And he cannot stand it if I close the bathroom door! Ha!

Now by this point, Chi had climbed into the bag I brought the treats over in, and was continuing to screech. I was yelling at him to “keep his hair on”, and Whess was coming out with even more entertaining incontinence/bathroom stories. Sometimes, you can get the feeling that an interview has gone a bit off track and sort of derailed, really. The only thing a good pet interviewer can do when this happens is make an excuse, and leave the premises ASAP. Always best not to look as though you are actually running, if you can help it.

I managed to extricate Chi from the bag. He calmed down significantly once Whess stopped telling the poop anecdotes, and he could see that I was leaving. Now, some people might say that my nonchalance was slightly exaggerated but professionalism is everything to me. I certainly did not want Whess to think that all pet interviews ended so chaotically. Or that all the cats I talked to ate quite so many treats. No, I was sure things would go much more smoothly over at my next cat rendezvous. Nellie had mentioned that her cat is 15, too old probably to get very excitable…..and me, of course, I’m always calm, and sort of the strong silent type really.

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Pet Peeves: Toby and Mary Ann

The July installment of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves is here and brimming with positivity! 

Everybody seems to meet online nowadays. It’s just not like it used to be when a simple handwritten note and a trip to the nearest haystack resulted in a new pet… or partner…

No, no, these days a lot of relationships begin with a bit of online dating…. That’s how Toby (distinguished Fox Terrier) and Mary Ann (grunt gallery’s consultant and grant writer since 2006) began. And honestly, I do a bit of online cat dating myself sometimes, when my own cat, Blackberry, is getting on my nerves. I will go and look at adorable kittens and wonder if I would end up bloody and maimed after trying to trim THEIR toenails… I wonder if THEY would give me any respect… if THEY would not simply regard me as some kind of food dispensing, litter box cleaning, slightly slow-witted, slave kind of person…

Mary Ann and Toby do not appear to have any of these issues. They seem to be living it up in an atmosphere of mutual love and respect!! Of course, this is just the kind of relationship that gets me feeling curious. Undaunted by my utter failure to find any malevolence whatsoever in any other grunt/pet households, I sat down with Toby for a little chat.

Me: So Toby, how long have you and Mary Ann been together now?

Toby: About a year, and they just recently got me this new house! Don’t you love it? It’s right across from the park!

Me; Well, actually, I think that’s a cemetery…

Toby: And I’ve got a bed in almost every room!

At this point, Toby caught sight of himself in the glass front of the gas fireplace and began to dance, round and round in figure eights.

Me: What are you doing there Toby?

Toby: Oh sorry, sorry, I get distracted by reflective surfaces, and I have to dance. It’s something I’m practising for my podcast.

Now, I had noticed a complete absence of mirrors at doggy eye level in Mary Ann’s place, even the mirrored bedside tables had been covered up with pillows. Apparently, Toby cannot resist the urge to dance in front of them.

Me: Podcast?

Toby: Yes, I’ve decided to expand my online presence with a little something extra, Tobytv. It’s an inspirational dog channel, for fox terriers who have fallen on hard times. There will be dancing, motivational speeches, and I will be posing for some pictures in my beautiful new home. But I think the dancing may be the most popular part.

Me: Hmmm, that all sounds good, but maybe that’s enough dancing for now. I feel a bit dizzy watching you. And what do you mean expand your online presence?

Toby: Well, of course you’ve heard of Fox Terrier News? And Fox Terrier Nation?

Me: Oh, of course, yes. Always looking at those things… constantly… can’t get enough of them…

Toby: Well, I have a lot of followers on there, not to brag or anything. And I want them to know that no matter how dark things might look, it can all work out in the best possible way!!

Me: Well, I can see how that’s true. Actually, my life would probably be pretty much improved if I could only talk Mary Ann into adopting me… nothing like a bed in every room to make a person feel comfortable.

Toby: I KNOW! So relaxing. And you know that I have epilepsy, so I really do need a lot of soft surfaces around the home.

I think it was right around then that I realized what a lovely and sympathetic dog Toby is. It seemed like the perfect time to share a few of my own health problems. I only stopped talking when Toby appeared to be drifting off to sleep. His gentle snoring rose and fell around the story of my last visit to the rheumatologist…

Toby: Oh dear, so sorry, I drifted off for a moment, probably because of my medication, of course, and you have such a relaxing voice. You could be an influencer like I am, I think. But you really need to keep on top of your posts. Once Mary Ann didn’t post anything about me for 2 weeks! Well, all my American friends were very worried. They like to know that I’m alive and well and chucking my treats around the room… and dancing…

Me: Well, Toby, we all like to see that. It’s always good to see a dog like yourself enjoying such a perfect life. Yep, always good… but I probably have to head out now. Blackberry gets quite hungry at this time of day, and she does not like to be kept waiting. It makes her irritable, and scratchy….

Toby: Come back any time! And look me up online. There’s a very good video of Mary Ann cleaning my ear with a Q-tip which I enjoy more than I can even tell you!

Me: Yes, don’t want to miss that one. Goody.

I headed out after a few more moments of ear scratching and chest rubbing with Toby. Please do not listen to any little stories Mary Ann might tell you about me trying to sneak out of the house with him! These are complete fabrications on her part! What kind of person would try to stuff a Fox Terrier into her purse and take him home?! Ludicrous, and he didn’t actually FIT into my purse anyway… not that I tried…

As I was heading home, (without Toby) I realized two things. The number 8 bus goes REALLY fast, like, much faster than most buses in this city, AND, if I wanted to truly find some juicy pet complaints, I would have to speak to Blackberry. After our 8 years together, I’m pretty sure she’s got a lot to say… most of it probably fairly complain-y…

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Pet Peeves: Alfie and Linda

Salut! Pet Peeves continues with Alfie, a Burnese French Poodle cross with a taste for an unusual delicacy…

I had heard through the grunt grapevine that Linda’s Alfie was a bit of a bad boy, and what woman doesn’t enjoy that? I was looking forward to some of that bad boy charm when Linda Gorrie, (grunt’s business manager of 14 years) and Alfie, (Burnese poodle cross) dropped by the gallery for a visit one Saturday. Now, if any dog wants to tell me that he is European, even though I know darn good and well that he actually hails from Surrey, B.C., in Canada, and has no relationship whatsoever to a lecherous, mid-century cartoon skunk, who am I to argue? I just would not argue. I’m not that kind of person. No no no noooo, if Alfie wants to have a fake-y, Pepe le Pew accent, and swear that it is because he is a Burnese, French Poodle cross, well, so be it… I just like to roll with these things, it’s my way.

Now, I did not notice any spectacularly bad boy-ish behaviour during the visit, apart from a bit of basically uncalled for barking. But, I was determined as always to dig up some kind of dirt. As you might know, I had pretty much given up ages ago on finding out anything troubling about the grunt staff. They are all just so consistently nice, it’s sickening really. But surely Alfie was harbouring some dark secrets. He originated in Surrey after all. If I was lucky, maybe there’d be gang involvement!

Me: So, Alfie, how long have you and Linda been together?

Alfie: I do not care for zees details! I bark at your silly, silly questions!! Bark Bark!

Me: Alfie, have you got a little bit of an accent?

Alfie: But of course, mon Cherie! I am European by breed! Zoot Alors! Do you know nothing at all? I must bark!! Oh, sorry, I did not mean to frighten that poor visitor to the gallery… I feel so bad that she is running out ze door! Zese humans, they are more like big chickens? Non?

Me: Well, Alfie that was actually fairly LOUD barking…..but tell me, how do you enjoy life with Linda and her daughter? Anything about them really getting on your nerves? Just any little thing at all…

Alfie: I adore Linda and her daughter!! Zey are the most beautiful women in ze world!!! Every night I creep from one bed to the other, I love them so much, I cannot decide!! Zey like, a bit too much, ze HUGGING! I I must BARK every time! Too much with ze hugging!! BARK!

Me: Right. Hmmmm, so, Linda is giving you the right kinds of toys and food and everything? Lots of walks and things?

Alfie: Yes, of course! My favourite toy is ze hamburger, made of rubber. And Linda has taught me fifty of your English words for food! Although some things Linda does not understand too well. I zink she does not know the European ways…like ze poo bags for example…

My ears perked up at the mention of poo bags. I was pretty certain this could be that bad behaviour I’d been looking for!

Me: Ummm, what exactly is it about the poo bags Alfie?

Alfie: In Europe, dogs like to eat ze poop. We take ze leetle bags full of ze poop, and we TOSS them up into the air!! We eat ze poop! I do not understand why all of ze humans at the dog park hide ze poop when I come over. Zey run, but they cannot hide! I will always find ze poop!

Me: Well, that is kind of gross.

Alfie: Pah! What do you know of ze poop?! You are like Linda, you have probably never even tried la poop! So, how do you know? It is more delightful than anything you could imagine! Viva la poop!!!

Now anyone who has ever lived with a dog knows that they do enjoy smelly things. They like to rub themselves on smelly things, and sit in your car, happily stinking up the place. And I can honestly say that my old dog, Rhonda, had a habit of snacking on the kitty litter. So, I guess this is a doggy thing, I’d never met one who deliberately went after poo bags in the park… and I did not entirely believe that this was a European dog trait, but I thought it showed a lot of focus from Alfie. Dedication really.

Seemed like it might be time for a bit of a change of subject.

Me: So, Alfie, you are a Burnese, poodle cross? A Burna-doodle? Is that right?

Alfie: Gah! Stupid, silly, silly name! Are you a human doodle? What is zis DOODLE!? It is so silly, I must CHEW on zis rubber doorstopper, until it is RUBBLE!!! DOODLE!! PAH!!!

At about this point in our interview, It occurred to me that Alfie might be getting a little over-excited. He began to talk about ART, and how much he loved it, and how delicious it is, while wandering into the gallery…I’m happy to say that no art was actually harmed during the making of this interview, but I was a bit worried that the show might meet the same fate as a tasty little bag of poo.

Me: Well, you are probably getting ready for your walk now? And maybe a bit of a snack? I’m sure Linda is planning to take you somewhere really nice today. Thanks for coming in to meet with me, Alfie, and if anything at all comes to mind, just anything you might have a complaint about, you have my number. Don’t hesitate to call….

Alfie: Yes! I must go out for ze refreshing walk!! I seem to have a little bit of rubber doorstopper temporarily stuck in my throat… gack, cough, petoooey!

Me: It was lovely to meet you, and always great to see you Linda.

Alfie: Gurk, silly door stopper! I must go!!! Immediatement! Where is my hamburger?!!

And with that, my brief time with Alfie and Linda was over. I did hear that he recovered completely from nibbling on the doorstopper, and that he and Linda went on to have a lovely outing… I did not hear if any poop bags were consumed during that walk, so I can only imagine…

Despite his bad boy ways, Alfie charmed me completely, and Linda? Well, what’s not to like?

No, my only hope was to talk to Mary Ann, and her dog, but really, I should probably rename this whole project, from Pet Peeves, to Perfect Pets and Pukingly Perfect Owners. Really, that’s how it actually IS! As Alfie would say, PAH! Silly!

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Spark Talks: Episode IV

Written by Whess Harman, Spark Talks curator 2018/2019

There’s a slight anomaly (not mistake) on our Spark Talk page that says our first talk was held on January 21, 2106. There are two ideas around this and whichever one is true we will know when we reach that aforementioned date.

Theory one: we are retroactively at the start of the 87th iteration of the series; if time is to be understood as linear points, but each point is an event that happens in a forward track, then once completed the next point is to hop back and not forwards (backstitched), the series is nearing the end of its existence, and the first talk we experienced was actually Mark Igloliorte’s on February 18, 2016 but was the last one of the 90th iteration of the series. Why our experience of time is layering over that track of time is not yet known to us but we assume there have been technological advancements or certain previously paranormal phenomena have been explained and harnessed.

The date of Castillo’s talk is the only one known to us from that time period and was placed at the end of the page so that it wouldn’t appear that we were only ever perpetually waiting for his talk on January 21, 2106, because we’re not waiting, it’s already happened and we’d prefer not to receive phone calls about it.

The second theory: Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo did, in fact, give his talk on January 21, 2106 and it was the first one and the second one followed February 18, 2016 with Mark Igloliorte, meaning that Castillo has (thus far) been the only participant who’s been displaced along this particular stream of time and we are at the end of the third series of Spark Talks, not at the start of the 87th.

Neither theory can be rejected because if Castillo’s roiling liminal narratives are to project possibility, it’s to project the possibility that time collapses, folds, layers, tears, melts, etc.

The third theory of errantly keyed keyboards and fingers possibly tripping over top themselves is not to be considered and no adjustments will be made to the page. We know what we mean when we say the talk happened on January 21, 2106; we just don’t know how we mean it.

What we also know regardless of this time-spatial distortion or cracked vortex in the event horizon or whichever techno-babble jargon applies, is that the Spark Talks, whether they are igniting backwards or forwards or in and out of time are existing in a state of curated chaos and hopeful galactic tidings. Each talk is a point in a constellation and in each iteration is an unpredictable mass of potentiality in ingenious expressions of Indigeneities that can flare, catch fire and sustain new life through and in spite of the vacuous vacuums and voids of academic drudgery and artscaped diasporas; we’ve seen Star Wars and we know you can have explosions in space and we know that an explosion need not herald the encroachment of inter-galactic despots but can be radiant expressions of our pluralities as resistant beings pulled together from the dreams of stars.

We Indigenous folk are habitually and persistently resistant to silence and the silence of spaces we are forcibly vacated from is no exception, be that the literal terrestrial spaces on which we reside or the erasures of space in the slipstreams of archival time. Reason being: we know that communities don’t evolve or adapt to each other through silence. So, bring on the cosmic light show.

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Pet Peeves: James and Hillary

Welcome to the May edition of Hedy Wood’s Pet Peeves! Read on as Hedy chats with grunt founder and current editor, Hillary Wood (no relation), and the investigation takes a turn toward the possibly paranormal…

Of course I believe that Hillary has a part-time cat named James. I also believe that James comes to visit by walking across two balconies, and that he stays for a couple of hours and naps on the bed and all the rest of it. Hillary Wood is a founding member of grunt gallery and is currently the editor there. She is definitely not some crazy person making up things in order to get me to write about her and some imaginary pet. And, I would like to add, you don’t see me standing around with my index finger pointed at my temple making that little twirly motion. You just don’t! I believe in James completely!

I believe in the existence of James, the part-time cat, so thoroughly that I went over to interview him and see what he had to say about Hillary.

Food bowls left out for the elusive cat-like creature, James.

After standing around on Hillary’s balcony for about half an hour, yelling for James and jiggling my bag of cat treats, I felt like it might be time for a drink……there was no sign of what I was beginning to think was a mere fig newton of Hillary’s imagination and I had a powerful thirst building. Also my yelling JAMES, JAMES!!! was starting to annoy the neighbors.

The interview went something like this:

Me: So, how about we crack open some of this pickle juice, and you tell me all about James who I believe in and know exists?

Hillary: You’re starting to make him sound like God or something! He does exist, and he comes over here every single day! I think all of your yelling has put him off, that’s all.

Me: Ha ha! Where are the glasses? Oh JAMES, you can come over any time now!!! Because I know you’re real!!!

James:

 

Me: Come on James!!! Sit on the bed, eat some stuff, come and visit. Oh JAAAAAAMES!!

James:

 

Definitely, it was time to crack open a bottle of wine. If nothing else, I could ask Hillary about James, and how he has come to be her part-time cat. Apparently, James is actually owned by a neighbor two balconies over, but he prefers to spend a lot of his time at Hillary’s. He’s sort of a cat-share cat, like a timeshare condo I guess….

So Hillary and I settled in and had a glass or two. Occasionally I would get up and go and yell for James out on the balcony. I only actually stopped doing this when I could see that it seemed to be causing Hillary psychic pain.

Hillary Wood and James the cat? Photo by Merle Addison.

I also began to make little jokes and then laugh at them really loudly, then explain the jokes and laugh some more. You know, as you do. When I reflect on it, Hillary really must have the patience of a saint.

The afternoon wore on, and there was still no sign of the alleged James. He was beginning to seem like Bigfoot or Ogo Pogo, I mean, maybe there’d be a sighting or maybe not…..but I do tend to believe in them, so what could possibly be the harm in hanging about for a bit longer? Also, around this time, another bottle of wine kind of fell out of my purse. Maybe it would be smarter to take a different approach to this particular pet interview. I decided to direct my questions to Hillary and stop yelling and treat rattling for James.

Me: So, what would James likely have to say about you? You know, if he actually existed? Oh sorry, I mean, really, what would his complaints be do you think?

Hillary: Well, he doesn’t like it when I move my feet when he’s sleeping on the bed. It makes him attack my feet.

Me: More wine?

Hillary: And he’s very protective about the balcony. He doesn’t even like it when I go out there!

Now this was beginning to seem like a pretty detailed description of imaginary cat behaviour. It was like if someone was saying, But no! The unicorn’s horn is actually sort of a pearly colour!! And the hooves have rainbows!!! Sooner or later, you have to suspend your disbelief.

Me: So how did you and James first meet then?

Hillary: James started coming over for visits when he was a tiny, shy kitten. He would creep around the corners of my place, but now, he feels very at home here. He’s here every day, usually. Probably he is scared of you being here…..and all the yelling…..

Me: Well, I never! Yelling indeed! I’ll show you YELLING little missy. JAAAAAAMMMMEEEESSSSS! JAAAAAMMMMEESSSSS!

Hillary: Would you please shut up?

It must have been around this time that I realized I had better go home. I still had no evidence that James actually existed anywhere on planet earth, and Hillary and I were on the verge of our first fight. Plus, I had the hiccups.

As I was collecting myself and preparing to leave, did I see a flash of white fur whisking by out on the balcony? Did I hear a faint and slightly ghostly meow? I can’t say for certain, but when I got home and the drinker’s remorse began to set in, I found I had a different feeling about James. I believed in him truly and I knew he really did visit every single day and all the rest of it. Honestly, I don’t know why I ever doubted him……now the only thing was to check in again with Hillary and see if she was also suffering from a kind of big headache….

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Pet Peeves: Freddie, Moe and Kate

The fourth installation of Pet Peeves is here! Can you believe it? Join us as grunt’s Gallery Assistant, Hedy Wood, continues her investigation of the grunt gallery staff by interviewing their pets.

Pets prefer a Scottish accent, period. You can say, “Whooooooo’s got those dog pants? Whooo’s got those PANTS?!” until your head expands like a melon, but really, it’ll get you nowhere. Likewise, “Where’s that pretty kitty cat CAT?!” Totally useless.

No, if you want to befriend any pet, any time, a simple Scottish burr is the way to go.

Example: “Och, aye, what a bonnie wee laddie/lassie ye are.” Boom, done, they melt like butter.

I was putting this theory to the test when I went to visit Kate Barry, Freddie and Moe. Not that I was exactly in the greatest mood for belting out a bunch of fake Scottish lingo, due to the heatwave, fifth-floor apartment and broken elevator, but I was doing my best.

Now Kate Barry is a bit newer to grunt, her job title is Screen Coordinator for the Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen, and I have to say she is one of the few interviews that I’ve done where a refreshing SNACK was provided. I think other pet owners might want to have a little think about that…

Freddie greeted me when I arrived at the apartment. I was sweaty, breathless, and talking a bit too much about arthritis. He was actually so adorable, my Scottish theory went right out of my mind.

Me: Oh hi Kate. Now who’s THIS? Is that the Freddie dog?! The little Freddie dog DOG! Whooooo’s the pupparazi? Well, that’s you, yes it is!

So, as you can see, pretty much a total failure of interview technique AND nothing Scottish whatsoever. I have to give Freddie extreme credit for rolling with all this nonsense in a very gentlemanly way.

Freddie: Why hello there Hedy, how charming to meet you, please, have a seat. Yes, that’s good, right there. I will jump up and sit right beside you. What could be more pleasant? Well, a small dog snack would really make this a perfect moment, wouldn’t it?

(I found out that Freddie, who looked perfect to me, is on a doggy diet. Some cruel and unusual vet has decided that Freddie needs to lose 3 pounds!)

Me: So, Freddie, how did you and Kate meet? How did she get so lucky?!

Freddie: Well, actually, I was on an online pet dating site, looking for a positive change in my relationships, and that’s how I met Kate. I didn’t know at the time that I was to become part of this beautiful, blended family, here with Moe. I LOVE Moe so much.

   

At this point in the interview, Kate did a little cat conjuring magic with a can of tuna, and Moe appeared from his upstairs man cave.

Me: Hello Moe! You are a CATLY cat!! Who’s got those whiskers?!!

(As you can see I had by this point pretty much gone completely cuckoo because Freddie and Moe are just so exactly the kind of pets anyone would love to have. Moe is a large luxurious tabby, and Freddie a perfect mix of Shitsu and Poodle, what’s not to love?

Moe: Are you by any chance here to interview me about that dog? Maybe you would like to talk about my perfect lovely life before SHE brought HIM home?! Everything was perfect until he came along, and now he just LOVES me so much all the time! He’s all LOVE LOVE LOVE every day, all day! What is wrong with him?! It gets on my very last nerve. Honestly, why exactly does he live here? We were FINE before he came along. AND he’s getting fat.

Me: Oh…….

Moe: And what kind of breed is he?! A Shit Poo, that’s what I call it, heh, heh, heh…..get it? Shitsu and Poodle.

Me: Oh………dear……well, now Moe, surely there must be some benefit to having Freddie around? He seems like a very sweet dog to me. Surely you must have gotten fond of him over these last couple of years?

(I think it was at about this point in the interview that Freddie jumped out of his chair and ran over to lick Mo’s nose. That sent me into cuteness overload, and I swear I saw a tiny Cheshire grin on Moe’s face.)

Moe: There! You see? That’s just a perfect example of what he’s like! LOVE! Barf! If he wasn’t so darn cute, I’m sure I would have killed him by now….little cutie….little shitty poo poo….

I began to sense a bit of a game or pattern going on between these two. Much as Moe repeatedly stressed his general loathing of Freddie, I could see a real bond and genuine caring between them. This, combined with the gracious hosting by Kate, and the general ambience of warmth and happy pets and all the rest of it, began to annoy me. I ended my little visit as politely as possible and went on down the five flights of stairs and out into the summer heat. Always easier going downhill, that’s what I say….

The thing is, I was thwarted once again in my quest for pet peeves. My quest which had in actual fact, mainly become about discovering bad behaviour ANYWHERE at all, on the part of any of the grunt staff, or their much loved pets! Everything was just a bit too peachy keen everywhere I went, and, as Moe would say, it was getting on my very last nerve!

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Curator Interview: Tarah Hogue on #callresponse

#callresponse, co-organized by Tarah Hogue, Maria Hupfield and Tania Willard, began at grunt gallery in 2016. The exhibition has toured across Canada and the US for two years and recently came to a close at TRUCK Contemporary Art and Stride Gallery in Calgary. To mark the end of the tour, grunt’s curatorial interns, Whess Harman and Nellie Lamb, chatted with Tarah about #callresponse and the roles of collaboration and mentorship in her practice.

Ursula Johnson with Charlene Aleck and Cease Wyss performing at the #callresponse opening in 2016. Photo by Merle Addison.

NL: Can you start by briefly describing #callresponse?

TH: #callresponse takes as its starting point five projects that were commissioned by Indigenous women-identifying artists based across Canada and into the US. The invitations were extended to these artists in particular because they are all very much enmeshed in working with community in different ways and their practices are all quite diverse, ranging from performance to ceremony to new media. The context that we asked those initial five artists to respond to was around reconciliation but in a roundabout way. We thought about how the projects that these artists are already committed to working on have a really transformative capacity, and looked at that as a starting point in order to turn that settler-nation-state-to-Indigenous relation within reconciliation on its head. We then asked each of those artists to extend that invitation to a collaborator or respondent to create these dialogues between practices. We were thinking about this call and response structure, but the artists took that in so many different directions. Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch decided to work together and position the land as their respondent, so there’s different degrees of collaboration or mentorship or response throughout the project.

WH: I was just reading over everything on the website again and the initial outset of how the project was described and, as an artist and someone at grunt now, it stood out so much how present these questions still are, not just as institutions but as artists. One of the questions I had about that is, how do you think institutions now are responding to this idea of reconciliation? Do you think that’s changed a lot or do you think #callresponse could just keep going until institutions responded in a meaningful way?

TH: [laughs]…until decolonization?

WH: [laughs] Yeah, until we achieve decolonization!

TH: That’s an interesting question because the experience of working with all of the institutions that we partnered with was very different and demonstrated where different organizations are in that relationship-building process. Like at Blackwood Gallery, we were in the context of an academic institution—they’re at the University of Toronto Mississauga—and part of what we did when we were there was to meet with university faculty and talk about their efforts to indigenize the academy, which is something that was a relatively new path for them at that time, or at least was new in terms of the university recognizing the work that Indigenous faculty were already doing in a systematic way. And then at a place like AKA Artist Run Centre in Saskatoon we were building upon work that they had already been doing within the community there, so it was really just about how we could give our resources over to the work that was already happening. I think that because the project doesn’t centre that settler-Indigenous relationship within reconciliation in the same way, that it could keep going on for a long time. Not that I don’t think that other projects that privilege that relationship aren’t important but it’s also like, who’s benefit is that for?

WH: It’s a heavy load on Indigenous artists. I feel, again speaking as an artist, being asked to do that, it’s like, I don’t have the answer and that’s what so many of these projects seem to frame like: “We’re going to have a reconciliation project and we’re going to have an answer!” But you are not! It’s going to be exhausting and I might be kicking and screaming by the time you’re finished.

TH: I asked Maria and Tania to work with me because they’re two people who I look up to immensely, and we further invited other artists who we looked up to immensely. A lot of the artist-respondent pairings had that aspect woven into it. Some artists chose to respond more directly to that context of reconciliation, like Christi and Isaac saying we’re not ready for reconciliation; we have to reconcile ourselves with the land before we can do something else.

WH: On the [web]page there’s a little thing where you’re quoting Leanne Simpson that was something that stood out to me about the whole process. With reconciliation are tied in these concepts of recognition and those concepts of recognition are so different when Indigenous people are working with other Indigenous people—it strengthens those bonds.

TH: That idea of living as if, as if we have realized the realities that we want on the ground. I love Leanne Simpson.

NL: I really like this web-like, looking-in-multiple-directions-at-the-same-time idea. When I originally read about the project I understood it as starting with you and hopping over to these artists and then they hop to these [other] artists, but listening to you talk about it now, it’s not so linear.

TH: No it’s not. That web of relationships, I’m coming to realize, is part of my curatorial practice both unconsciously and consciously. Translating that way of working to working at the Vancouver Art Gallery is a little bit complicated. How do you maintain that? How the institution responds to that methodology is interesting.

WH: It must be hard with larger institutions. I imagine there is this unspoken thing about making things palatable for an audience but a project like #callresponse is asking, well, what’s palatable for an institution?

TH: That’s something that I’ve puzzled over about the exhibition in general as it’s travelled to different places, because the story of the project is so rich and all of the different in-person interactions and experiences are at the heart of the exhibition, and then you have a series of works that stay the same, that travel to each place with a few changes, like when Ursula did a new song line that would go into the gallery instead of the initial one that she and Cheryl did together. A lot of the works in the show point outside of themselves. Maria’s felt bag is an object that’s activated in performance and the plywood cut-out buffalo robe points to the fact that that original object is not there any more. I’ve always been curious throughout the process of the exhibition about how people experience that pointing outside of the gallery through these objects that are inside of the space. Allison Collins, when the show opened here, said that the role of imagination in looking at the exhibition was something that stood out for her right away. Thinking about what the stories of the objects were outside of the space. She said something along the lines of imagination is not valued as much in exhibitions as it should be.

WH: Initially I also had the same idea that this is a very linear project in many ways, but did you find overall that you were enmeshing more into things, into networks?

TH: Yeah, I would say so. It’s interesting to re-install a show over and over again and see how it shifts in every location and every context and what kinds of conversations come out of those contexts. The most enmeshed aspect of the project was me, Maria and Tania working together. That kind of coordinating but also curatorial conversations around each project—it was really thinking about, in each context, what projects we could activate or what artists we could bring in that would speak well to that context. Really it was about being responsive to that set of conditions, but sort of diving deeper into the projects each time.

NL: Do you have an example of one install or experience of install that changed really drastically or in an important way?

TH: Ursula’s project is a good example of that. Her project, The Land Sings, was in existence before #callresponse started. She had already done three or four song lines, so the project was a way of building on that work and acknowledging that work. We did song lines here, in Mississauga, New York, and Halifax. It moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and then back again over the course of the tour. In each case Ursula is working with singers, hand drummers, and language speakers in that area, and thinking about the relationships between the gallery and the closest First Nation community. That project shifted each time. In New York the song line was mapped onto the skyline of the city as something that’s such a defining feature there and is overlaid on top of Indigenous space and closely follows historic travelling routes that Indigenous Lenape would have travelled along.

NL: That site-specificity seems like such an integral part of the project.

TH: I think so. The initial five commissions were asked to be “locally responsive”; we didn’t really use the term “site specific.” I guess it started by thinking about how all of these artists are committed to doing the work that they’re doing in their own communities. That community is differently defined by everyone. It’s not about an ancestral or reserve community. It can be a shifting context that the artists are all responding to. Also, when we approached galleries for the first time we always asserted that this is a partnership. So the galleries need to take the lead, developing programming that makes sense in their context. We’re not just going to parachute in and do this exhibition; it wouldn’t be in line with how the project began or how it developed. It’s all the context; the responsiveness to context has always been a really central aspect to the project.

WH: Did you find some resistance from some places that didn’t understand where the project was coming from?

TH: No, luckily our partnerships were formed well in that way. Certainly some institutions had much more active, or ongoing or in-depth conversations than others that just rolled with it in their own way. Or [with] some people, it was a really collaborative coming to understand what needed to happen. I think that most of our partners understood for the most part what we were trying to do. There were challenges along the way. I think once we had done the first few, you kind of figure out what questions to ask, what kind of conversations need to happen at the beginning in order to get to what needs to happen. There’s always going to be a set of possibilities that we are responding to and another set of considerations that can be discussed with the partners.

WH: It seems like a difficult thing to do something like an exhibition, which is very administrative just by nature of being attached to an institution, [and] to also have it sincerely engage with the people that are going to see it. A thing I think about a lot when I’m asked to do a workshop is, well, what’s actually beneficial to you? To stop you from just dropping in and being like, “These are my ideas!” and then peace-ing out and ending the dialogue.

TH: I think that a lot of relationships were formed through the project. The participating artists are variously involved in communities where the show went to, so we were able to build upon those relationships a little bit.

WH: I was never able to make any of the performances just by nature of always travelling myself. I just remember each time there was a performance there was a spike in the hash tag and just feeling this intense feeling of FOMO. But also, going through the comments and seeing everyone else who couldn’t make it, there’s this weird outside community that wasn’t able to attend.

TH: Speaking of spider webs and networks, right? The amount of people who have followed the project online and through its various iterations has been pretty spectacular. It’s been really heart-warming in that respect. All of the artists, especially the five initial artists, they’re all such powerhouses. Huge amazing forces to be reckoned with. That was apparent always throughout the exhibitions.

WH: What curatorial projects are you inspired by outside of your own?

TH: Because I’m now working at the Vancouver Art Gallery I’m looking more intensively at what other large-scale institutional work people are doing and always puzzling to myself how they pulled that off. The work that Jamie Isaac and Julie Nagam are doing at Winnipeg Art Gallery, it’s very clearly connected to the community there and has enlivened the space when they activate it through their work and also their ethic and methodology. The way that they work together is really something I admire. And one of the best shows that I’ve seen in the last couple of years is We Carry Forward by Lisa Myers. I saw it when I was in Ontario. It was a group exhibition that just really floored me. She’s a really smart curator. And Lorna Brown at the Belkin, I was thinking about Lorna and Lisa together because they both play upon the meaning and structure of language and then extrapolate that into the artworks that they include.

NL: I’m just thinking about #callresponse ending: it recently wrapped up at its last stop at Stride and TRUCK Gallery in Calgary. Is there a story or a feeling about the impact of the project—maybe something in your own practice—as it comes to a close? How are you reflecting on the project?

TH: Two things come to mind: the scales of intimacy and really public-facing discourse that have both been really fulfilling. I think that’s encapsulated at Stride and TRUCK Gallery in Calgary. We worked with youth from Tsuu T’ina First Nation, which is a program already established with those galleries. A dozen kids came from the rez and we had pizza lunch,we gave them a tour of the show, Maria let them mess with her performance objects, and then we did a pirate radio broadcast in the gallery at TRUCK, which would have a radius of about a block. And the kids, like, played Drake songs and told jokes and we ate chips. It took a few hours before, right at the very end, everyone’s warmed up to each other and we’re chilling and it’s natural. It’s a little different with kids, but there’s a number of moments throughout the project that are small scale and focused on that kind of moment. And then there’s a moment, like opening the exhibition in New York and doing a round table to a packed house, attended by arts workers from around the city. And you recognize that you’re part of a dialogue that people really need to be hearing there and need to be having, because it doesn’t happen enough and the ways that [it] happens aren’t always Indigenous-led. It is a small moment, but you just feel like you’re connected to something that’s wider and urgent. Those nodes of the project are what will resonate with me for a long time to come.

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Pet Peeves: Atom, Hank, and Vanessa

The third installation of Pet Peeves is here! Join grunt’s Gallery Assistant, Hedy Wood, as she delves further into her investigation of the grunt gallery staff by interviewing their pets.

After all of that British swearing from the Hounds of the Barkervilles over at Meagan’s place, I planned to go and visit Vanessa and her partner and their cats. Their nice delightful quiet cats, that’s what I was in the mood for.

Vanessa Kwan (grunt curator for the last 4 years) and her feline friends were to be my 3rd pet interview, and I have to say that I had already pretty much given up on finding any dirt. I know Vanessa to be consistently lovely, and I highly doubted that her cats were going to shed any light on some other shadowy, dark side of her personality that was completely made of evil. It just didn’t seem likely….

There was however, a millennial cat (Atom), and like a lot of people of my generation, I had a few questions about technology that I wanted to ask him. So I headed out, with my trusty phone that I barely know how to make an audio recording on, and the obligatory pocket full of cat treats. I figured Hank would enjoy a treat, being the older cat, but she preferred to sit on the other side of the room, working on her best stink eye.

Now, everything would have gone really well at Vanessa’s, if only I hadn’t sat down on the couch. THE COUCH!!!! It is the BEST goddamn couch I HAVE EVER SAT ON! I can’t stop yelling and swearing just thinking about it! That couch is dreamiest, comfiest, cushiest, softest, most cloudlike thing I have ever had the pleasure of lying on in my entire life!! I LOVED their COUCH! So, of course, that was a bit distracting when it came to trying to conduct my interviews with the cats. I mean, how did they meet Vanessa? Where did they come from? I DID NOT CARE! All I wanted to do was sit on that couch until the day I die…  by the end of my time there, I was completely horizontal and ignoring the cats entirely… I tried, but honestly, the couch won out.

Here’s a small sample of what was in my notes…

Me: So, Atom and Hank, do you two actually get to lie on this couch every day?! Don’t you love it?

Atom: Well, I DO enjoy the couch, when I feel like sitting still and watching a bit of television, but normally I am too active to lie around… I like to play computer games, and things like that that Hank does not enjoy, Hank is quite old, JIC you didn’t notice…

Hank: I, wait a minute, what was the question? I don’t think I like you, but I can’t remember why, exactly… oh, the COUCH, yeah that is good…

I found out that Hank suffers from some short term memory loss, which made interviewing her a bit more difficult. She also only likes Vanessa, no one else, only Vanessa. There was something about that I could relate to. It so exactly mirrored my feelings for the couch.

Atom: Did you know that Hank hates technology so much that she puked on the iPad? What kind of a person does that? She’s so jelly about that iPad!

Me: Aren’t you being kind of a snitch right now? Come and sit on the couch with me? Be nice!

Atom: I feel more like running around the place!

Hank: Yep, I still feel like I hate you Hedy….can’t really put my paw on the reason why… well, you’re not Vanessa for one thing… hey, wait, was there another question? Lot of questions…

Me: Well, yes, how long have they had this couch? Where did they get it anyway? Might have been expensive… must have been… sooooo superior to that old piece of lumber I’m sitting on at my place, I might as well be lying around outside on the concrete, that’s how bad my couch actually is… hmmmmmm, I think a short lie down would be good…

Atom: Hedy! HEDY!!!! Look! LOOK! Hedy, LOOK! I got a new game on my phone!!!! Come and look!! I can play it while I’m hanging upside down from this chair!!!!!

Me: Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Hank: Gack! Barf! Excuse me, hairball…

It might have been around this time that Vanessa began to talk a lot about having to get to work. I tried to check around, sort of surreptitiously, to make sure I hadn’t left any drool on the couch, and prepared to head out.

Once again, I had not actually uncovered any real vices in the grunt staff… I mean apart from the fact that Vanessa literally SHAVES Hank on a regular basis. Hank is really a long haired cat, which you would never know at all from looking at her. The thing is, Vanessa shaves Hank as an act of kindness, (so annoying). Otherwise Hank would continually chew on and eat her own hair, then throw it up all over my couch. Then, she would forget that she’d done it because of the memory thing. So, you see, Vanessa is not doing anything mean at all by shaving her, or even anything particularly memorable… And Atom? Well, he is just a sweet young Devon Rex who would enjoy more screen time, if only the humans of the household would turn the darn thing on and watch a nature show or two… nothing very sinister lurking there either.

No, no, no no no, these pets weren’t pissed at all! Possibly there would be something at Kate’s place, but I was beginning to despair, AND I already missed that couch.

** Since this interview was conducted Vanessa’s cat gang has grown by one, Prune is pictured with Hank and Atom above.

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Pet Peeves: Sugar, Wendell, and Meagan

Welcome to the second installation of Pet Peeves! Join grunt’s Gallery Assistant, Hedy Wood, as she investigates the grunt gallery staff by interviewing their pets.

It is entirely possible that I am more of a cat person. Of course, I was not scared in any way at all while visiting Meagan, Sugar(?!) and Wendell. And I was definitely NOT standing out on the porch until the dogs were secured upstairs behind a completely insubstantial looking gate. No, no no no! I was just waiting politely to be invited inside.

After all the pleasantness over at Dan and Boris’ place, it’s fair to say that I was on the lookout for something a bit more visceral. I’d like to emphasize the words, A BIT. I wasn’t actually prepared at all for the piranhas in dog bodies that I met at Meagan’s house…. and I have to say right now that in my humble opinion, SUGAR is a bit of a misnomer for an animal that would literally enjoy chewing the limbs off your body. Sugar?! Seriously.

Meagan Kus has been grunt’s Operations Director for the last 9 years and she described to me what that job entails. Budgets, HR, and daily thingies, oh my! I sort of dozed off a little in the middle part of it all.

The one thing I did notice is that her personality is basically the complete polar opposite of those hell hounds that we are calling British Bulldogs. At 60 pounds each, Sugar(?!) and Wendell greet visitors to the household in a snarling mass of fury! To say that they are “protective” is understating the situation.

I attempted to interview the dogs, because I was not at all intimidated by their histrionics, but it didn’t actually go well. For one thing, I had to stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell up at them while they tried to break through the gate and eat my legs off.

I’ll give you a little sample of what was on my tape.

Me: Er, hello, Sugar(?!) and Wendell….

Dogs: Barking in unison,

WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THIS HOUSE YOU BLEEDING BEGGAR?!!!! GET OUT NOW POXY BITCH!!!!! SOD OFF!!!!! AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!! CRIKEY!!!!!!

DON’T BLOODY WELL TOUCH MEAGAN!!!! ARE YOU TOUCHING MEAGAN?!!!! YOU’RE GONNA DIE DAFT COW!!!!! DIE!!!!!!!AND A LOT BLOODY SOONER THAN YOU EXPECTED!!!!!

C-WORD!!!!BARK! SNORT!!!!

(So, of course these dogs swear in British! It’s the weirdest swearing I’ve ever heard. How many times can an animal tell a person to “sod off”? Quite a few as it turns out……and I still don’t know why they said I “ponged like a smelly old armpit”.)

Me: So, ummm, how did you and Meagan meet?

Dogs: SOD OFF OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!!!!BLIMEY!!! DIE!!!! GAAAHHHH! BARK!!! SNORT!!!!!!!!!!!

At this point, I did not exactly need to haul out my degree in rocket science to see how well the interview was going. Meagan put the dogs in the bedroom which made them slightly less loud, and we sat down for a bit to have a chat. I was determined to dig up a little dirt on Meagan, but it was starting to look like the only thing wrong with her was the canine component of her household.

Meagan told me that the dogs were from Abbotsford, and they had a predecessor, Bubba, who actually had a good personality. Bubba is the reason the Sugar(?!) and Wendell came to be Meagan’s pets in the first place.

So, to recap, Sugar(?!) and Wendell came from a breeder in Abbotsford. Did I mention there is a distinct possibility that they are related to each other? Like, they may be crazy British first cousins or something.

When it came to finding out the dogs’ pet peeves, I had to rely on Meagan, because there was obviously just no talking to them.

I found out that Wendell (recent history of near violence with a doggy day care worker!) cannot abide any kind of contamination AT ALL in his water bowl. AND he doesn’t do what any other dog might and simply sip from the toilet bowl water, no no. Wendell will actually sit beside the water bowl, yelling, whimpering and crying until someone, whose name starts with M, and ends with Eagan, gets up and refreshes it….he also will eat all of his food so fast that he is in serious danger of choking. In fact, he DID choke one time and needed some serious Heimlich maneuvering to save his life. Now he and Sugar(?!) both have special ridged dog bowls to slow down their eating….think of the short work they would make of a human limb!

Sugar(?!) has a strange fascination with Meagan’s husband’s head. She likes to LICK it, she likes it a LOT. Apparently this has gotten to the point where Craig cannot even have a nap on the couch because he knows he’s in for a licking!

Both dogs, allegedly, have a sweet and loving side to their personalities. I suppose this can be sort of seen in the head licking incidents….and they also enjoy physical contact in the form of sitting or lying on top of the humans in their household. Isn’t that nice?

Their main complaint seems to be about PEOPLE COMING OVER. They just don’t like it, at all. AND they would like a lot more physical affection and human contact, a LOT more. They are not at all content with a bit of weekend head licking…..well, I mean who would be, I guess.

All in all, nothing I saw reflected badly on Meagan in even the tiniest way! She does an amazing job of dealing with those dog personalities, and she does the same thing, (with less barking) at grunt.

No, my search for dirt was stymied once again! It was time to hit the road and soldier on, most likely there is something quite beastly going on over at Vanessa’s place. I was eager to get over there and investigate, and oh, did I mention? Vanessa has CATS.

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Pet Peeves: Dan and Boris

We are pleased to present the first instalment of Pet Peeves, a series in which grunt’s Gallery Assistant, Hedy Wood, investigates grunt gallery’s staff by interviewing their pets. We will post a new instalment of Pet Peeves each month. Enjoy!

It had honestly never occurred to me that there might be a pet without a peeve until I went to Dan’s place. I mean, who has a cat that is so content, he doesn’t destroy the furniture? Or wake you up in the middle of the night by sitting on your head? Or sit beside the food bowl, yelling? Well, apparently DAN has that cat! Apparently, everything is all just super duper all the time over there!

It’s not exactly that I am obsessed with finding fault with grunt staff, but really, there has to be something wrong with them. At work they are kind, inclusive, courteous and professional, while also managing to be fun…..and good looking. I mean, Come ON! Gah! How is that interesting?

No, there has to be something else going on and I figure those pets are the ones that know. Surely they are harbouring some kind of secret grudge? They’ve got to be peeved about some terrible thing the staff is doing. I just need to get to the bottom of it.

Boris and I met at the beginning of March at Dan Pon’s east end apartment. (Dan has been grunt’s archives manager for the last 3 years, and was involved with the gallery for 4 years before that in a variety of capacities. He also works as a librarian at Langara College and West Vancouver Memorial Library. He probably barely has time to even feed a cat.)

Boris is a lanky, handsome, debonair black and white cat. He also appeared to be a bit shy, but totally charming, hmmmm, I did not see how this was going to help with my particular mission. But I put my phone on record and commenced with the interview, optimistic as always, and with a pocketful of cat treats on hand.

Me: So Boris, tell me how you and Dan met.

Boris: Well, about six years ago, I had fallen on some difficult times and I was temporarily living in a shelter down in Seattle. I had been living with a big gang of cats outside a warehouse, but that situation was about to end, and I fear, all of our lives with it!  Dan and his partner were in desperate need of a feline rescue, and of course, I was looking for better accommodations, so I caught their eye when they came into the shelter. Long story short, they ended up terminating their vacation in order to bring me to their home in Canada. People just do not realize the amount of effort we cats put in to rescuing them. I had to lure them all the way to Seattle, AND disrupt their vacation.

Me: Yeah, ok, good, that’s nice, what a sweet story. But what I really want to know is do you have any complaints about Dan? Here have a treat.

Boris: Actually, there is literally almost nothing wrong with Dan. I mean he works a lot, and he could be here, spending time with me and doing things for me, but that’s about it.

Me: So, would you say everything here is all perfect and completely GOOD?!It’s just NICE and PLEASANT all the time?!!!

Boris: I have to say that I do worry a bit about Dan’s hearing. I mean how loudly does a cat have to YELL before he realizes that I need something? What if I’m hungry, or need to go outside, or the litter box is in bad condition? Sometimes I have to yell at him for ten minutes or so before he responds! But he is really so excellent in every other way, I’ve got no complaints at all.

Me: F WORD! What about snoring? That can be very annoying, or excessive gassiness and farting? Or stupid nick names? He can’t be THAT perfect!

Boris: Sometimes they call me Flatfish, which has to do with my elegant, low slung hunting posture, but I kind of like that. And no, no particular gassiness that I have noticed….

Me: Come ON! There’s got to be SOMETHING!! You’ve been together for what? Six years now?

Boris: My word, you certainly are a very persistent person, dogged almost…..all right then, I do think it would be very nice of them to get me a little kitten buddy…..there, I said it! Oh, and they might want to do something about the condition of my scratching post, it’s a tad shabby…I don’t say these things as complaints at all, more like helpful suggestions….

Now, I have to say that by this point in the interview, I was beginning to grind my teeth. My own good opinion of Dan was completely unaltered, and Boris was ready to get out for a bit on his neighborhood patrol. And what kind of dirt had I dug up? Absolutely zero, zilch, zip nada! Everything was just a little too good around Dan’s and it was getting on my nerves. Definitely it was time to leave.

While I was grumpily riding the #4 back to my place, I thought about Meagan and her “protective” bulldogs and the way they vigilantly guard her house. That must be a terrible situation. Goody. I planned to call her as soon as I got home….

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