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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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It’s all over when the fur flies

Cheryl-Anne Millsap The Spokesman-Review

I hate to sound paranoid, but I think my house pets are trying to kill me.

Each night my black cat stretches to twice his normal length, as only cats can do, in the shadows at the top of the stairs.

One of my dogs, the one who just happens to be the same deep red-brown color as the hardwood floor, likes to sleep at the bottom of the stairs, right where I have to step. The other cat and dog hide in dark corners to dart under my feet, or twine around my ankles.

So, each time I hear something go bump in the night, and unfortunately it seems like something goes bump in my house every night, I have to navigate a furry obstacle course to investigate.

When I stagger out of bed in the morning, before my eyes have even focused, they’re waiting for me.

If I were the suspicious type, I’d swear they were working together.

So far I’ve been lucky. There’s been some stumbling and a lot of swearing, but I’ve managed to stay upright and not fall, turning cartwheels before landing in a broken heap on a well-placed canine. So far. But it’s only a matter of time.

I don’t know why my dogs and cats might have turned on me. I thought we were all just one big happy family.

Each of my pets has a different story. My older dog – a good natured Chesapeake Bay retriever, Labrador retriever and who knows what else mix – was a Humane Society rescue. I went to the shelter every day for a week, working with him and observing the way he interacted with my youngest daughter, who was a preschooler at the time, before I brought him home.

The younger dog, a Dachshund-terrier mix, was an impulse adoption. He belonged to a friend, and when I saw him for the first time he was a passive, 2-year-old, sharing a run with his hyperactive, more dominating brothers. My friend mentioned that she’d like to find a home for him, a loving place where he would get more attention, and I heard my own voice say, “I’ll take him!” He has been my devoted shadow since.

One of my cats, the sleek, black, shorthair, chose us to live with and followed my children home on Halloween night. The younger cat – a fuzzy black and white “tuxedo” cat – was a 4-month-old Christmas kitten left by Santa.

I’ve never had such companionable animals.

The two cats and two dogs spend a lot of time together and genuinely seem to enjoy one another’s company. But – I’ll be honest – suddenly that seems sinister.

It’s hard to believe that they might be conspiring to, well, break the hand that feeds them. But I’m telling you, something is going on.

Why? They are all well fed, much loved and considered to be members of the family. What possible grudge could they hold against me?

I buy the food that was recommended by our veterinarian even though it costs more than steak. I let them get on the furniture. I even look the other way when someone creeps onto the bed.

And I keep everyone healthy. I make sure they get their shots.

And because each was what is called an “intact” male when I got them, I didn’t waste a minute. For their own good, the very first thing I did was hustle them off to the Vet’s office to be neutered….

Oh, geez.

Look, if anything should happen to me, say, I’m found face down at the bottom of the stairs, with the dogs in the corner chewing – a little too nonchalantly – on their Nylabones and the cats kneading contentedly on my fractured back, remember this column.

Just in case, I’ve left a copy with my attorney.

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