I never knew how much fun work could be.
I work here all day long providing vigilant protection and comfort to my mom, but I’ve never worked outside our home, even though I’ve sat right by the door with the look no one could mistake, letting my mom know that I would be happy to accompany her wherever she went.
But she would just laugh, though sometimes she would say that if she could take me, she would.
And today, when I walked to the door and turned around to look up at her, she said, “Guess what, Cookie? Today you’re coming with me! We’ll give this a try.”
Well I was ready and standing right by the door, but instead of just opening it as I had expected, she stuffed me in the pink plastic thing! What was this?!
“Bet you’re going to the doctor,” Mr. Sunshine said through the wire mesh.
Then she lifted the thing and instead of walking with dignity on the sidewalk to the car as I had always seen her do, I was carried and plunked in the back seat.
She got in and started the car, and I began to think I’d been duped.
“Meeoooww-oww-OW-ow,” I let her know at medium volume.
“Oh, Cookie, you’ll be fine!” she answered.
“Meee-OW-oow-yow-ROW-row-ooo,” I told her, a little louder.
I hate it when she laughs at me. “It’s just a short ride, Cookie, and when we get there, you’ll have a great time,” she said.
I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go anywhere if this was how it was going to be. “Meeee-OWW-ow-YOW-yow!” I answered at full volume.
But the car stopped and she got out, picking up several things including me in the pink thing and heading for the porch of a strange building, unlocked the door and set me down inside. It was cool, dark and quiet and smelled very strange, but elements of it smelled familiar somehow.
Then we went though another door and she set me down and opened the door on the pink thing. I was out of there and several steps away before I even looked around.
It was like another house, and it smelled even more familiar, though I couldn’t place it. I wanted to slowly explore, but I was too shaken up by the whole experience of getting there so I just started pacing and talking to wear it off.
“Meee-OW-w,” I said as I walked around in the next room.
“Cookie Girl,” mom called in her familiar sing-song voice.
“Mee-yow-row?” I asked as I entered yet another room and heard mom coming up behind me.
“So what do you think?” she asked. I gave her a straight-forward gaze and began heading back to the original room, but I was feeling more comfortable now. There was nothing threatening here. It’s been most of my life since I’ve been at a veterinarian’s office because the lady comes to our house, but Namir used to go away all the time and come back smelling like really frightening stuff. There was none of that smell here.
Then someone came in who was also familiar. And then it all came together!
It was Aunt Judi, mom’s friend who visits sometimes, and sometimes mom comes home smelling like Judi’s house and her cats. This place smelled a little like Aunt Judi, and it also smelled like our house, and then I suddenly recognized the things in that first room! This was the shop mom had been writing and talking about for months!
“So here’s our little shop cat?” Aunt Judi said. I proudly agreed and purred vigorously that I would do my best to guard things and greet customers. I walked around the counter putting little things in their place and stepping on the top of a table to get a better view of the room.
Then Aunt Judi’s boyfriend Don came in. “Well, look here, we’ve always wanted to have a shop cat!” he said. I don’t know him as well but he’s a real cat person, he’s got it written all over him and he knows how to pet a cat.
Then mom and Aunt Judi proceeded to ignore me and do their boring talking thing, but mom got me a pretty ceramic pot full of water and placed it on the floor.
“I didn’t want to use anything that people may use for their own food or beverage someday,” my mom said. “Not everyone likes to use a bowl that a cat has used, even though we wouldn’t care,” she continued.
What was that all about? Not that I cared. I drink out of mom’s water glass.
Aunt Judi picked me up again so she could pet me some more on the counter, and then we had our first visitor! I walked right over and looked at him, purring, so of course he petted me. I guess that’s what a shop cat is supposed to do. From everyone’s reactions, I did pretty well for my first customer greeting. But then, I’ve been greeting people in our house all my life.
Eventually everyone left and mom and I were there. She set up a chair behind the counter for me with a train case for a step where I could look out the window and watch things. Now and then I jumped down to peruse the middle room and the end room again, then came back to my post.
She blew up balloons and tied them to a sign that had me on it, and put it outside, and took care of a few other things while I bathed. The door was open and the traffic was very loud. I went to look out the door but I didn’t want to get too close and went back to my chair so I could supervise my mom.
I might rather be at home where it’s more familiar, but this was a little exciting, and I like to be with my mom. Anywhere is fine with me, as long as my mom is there.
It was only right that I should be here because, even though Stanley watches over Mom’s fine art and the whole marketplace thing, I was the inspiration for her to sell fun handmade merchandise and open up a shop, and I’m always in the advertisements for her shop, even the virtual one.
“Okay, Cookie, we’re going back to our room now,” she said after a while, and we made our way back through the central room, stopping to look things over, then I joined my mom in the back room.
She had already placed a water bowl for me in the corner. I had a good long drink of water, then looked around and realized I recognized just about everything in the room. Mom was pulling boxes around and rearranging things and suddenly I was very tired. I found a convenient box under the table in the center of the room where I could watch everything, and took a little nap. I have to admit, humans have quite the stamina and can get quite a bit done in the course of a day.
When I awoke I had a stretch and a drink and saw that mom was nearly done moving things, but there was one section that was not to my liking, so I jumped in there and rubbed my nose on boxes and looked encouragingly. Mom obligingly rearranged things, and they looked much nicer.
I did the rounds again and came back, and then we had lunch. I looked at mom and purred in the middle of my meal. This was good. If this was what work was like, I had no idea why people complained so much.
Then I settled on a chair where, I’ll admit, I looked very attractive, especially surrounded by several things with my image on them. I had another bath and a little nap, and suddenly it was time to go. It went so fast! I can’t wait to go back again!
Except that I had to go back into that awful pink plastic thing again! I fought it, and all the way home I let mom know how I felt, but the ride back was equally short and before I knew it I was in mom’s office and walking back out of the carrier. After another little snack and a long drink and a trip to the boxes, we were back at mom’s desk. I was exhausted after my full day, and I just stretched out and looked forward to a nice long sleep.
I’ve always wanted a little shop of my own, and of course that shop would have a cat. Running a shop is a serious investment of time and money, though, and I know it will be a while before I can have my shop and gallery, promote other artists and host their shows, so I’m more than grateful to Judi for suggesting I set up in her back room. We’ve been working together for years as I designed her website and help her with promotions and she attends all my shows, refers me to others and has purchased several pieces of my artwork.
Cookie is right—she is the best choice for a shop cat, both because she really was the inspiration for all those block prints with “The Goddess”, which in turn led to many other handmade items and gave me enough material to open a shop, and because she has always had the personality for it. I know she’s a tortie cat and sometimes she can really turn on the tortitude, but most of the time she’s happy and friendly and purring, and everyone is amazed by her face that is split by color right down the middle.
But Cookie is 18, and the reality of a stand-alone shop for me is years in the future, so I decided Cookie and I had to do this right now. I knew she’d be fine with it after her initial unease, but I also knew she’d be physically active because she’s very curious and at 18 I wasn’t sure if she could handle all that physical activity without wearing out, so I was prepared to take her home. Four hours is about as long as I’d keep her there, unless she begins to relax and have a real sleep while she’s there.
Judi is a real cat person, one of the “best people” I’ve met along the way. She and Don have had as many as seven cats and now have five; I believe their entire household has changed over since I’ve known them. Cat number 5 is Allie, so named because this lovely long-haired gray and white tuxedo kitty lived in the alley behind the shop and Judi and Don had seen her nearly be hit by a car too often, not to mention that she always ran to give them an enthusiastic and affectionate greeting. So they took her home. Allie knew exactly what she was doing, as cats seem to do when they target someone as a potential home.
Could Cookie and I have it any better? A few more customers maybe, but we’ve just begun this effort of being open every day (there are others there, including Judi, on other days), and so far it’s not been bad.
I love all my other cats, but Cookie has always simply presumed she was my best friend, and she’s right. We can never create too many memories, and I enjoy being able to introduce her to other people.
You can read about my shop in Portraits of Animals Has Set Up Shop.
You can see much of the merchandise that’s in the shop on my Portraits of Animals Marketplace blog by searching for things in my shop.
You can also visit my Etsy shop or if you’re actually in the Pittsburgh area you can visit me and Carnegie Antiques at 423 West Main Street, Carnegie, PA 15106.