Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.6.18
Stanstead, Quebec


Meet the pets

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | Over the years, I have frequently referenced the many pets that have roamed this house, not always in a flattering light. Not ever in a flattering light. Sometimes you can't even see the light because it's blocked by too many pets.

This has been somewhat unfair of me and may have contributed to a general societal prejudice against pets, because, as with humans, nothing demonizes a group more than depicting them as a single faceless entity who lick themselves and poop in the basement. Consequently, I would like to introduce you to the current roster of animals living under our roof.

Bella – dog

Bella is part Lab, part moron. She came to us from a litter just up the street. "Litter" is an appropriate word here because Bella loves garbage. If we don't put the garbage can on the kitchen table when we go out, Bella will tip it over. The thing is, we compost most of our food. There's not much in there but sharp tin lids and those meat diapers they use to line styrofoam butcher trays, so Bella is nothing if not optimistic. Also "Meat Diapers" is the name of my punk rock band.

Bella is almost 10 now and is starting to slow down, but she still gets super excited when we come home, as if she hasn't seen us in weeks – wiggling, moaning with delight, licking and jumping. I'll enjoy this while it lasts because I know from experience with marriage that this behaviour usually stops sometime around year 11.

Positive: warms my feet; non-judgemental. Negative: barks at pedestrians/temperature fluctuations; noisy eater; steals my chair

Nellie – cat

One of the triplets temporarily fostered from the SPA as kittens and then retained permanently because of their adorableness, which is a sneaky, dirty trick, SPA! Nellie used to be my least not-favourite because she was so friendly. She'd look you in the eye, and if you meowed at her, she would talk back. So cute. Now I wish she'd just shut up. Probably this is because what she's actually saying is, "Clean my butt!" Nellie is obese, too obese to properly clean herself, and each morning, after she drags her rear across the floor, leaving dubious streaks, she follows us to the bathroom, meowing aggressively, because that's where we keep the baby wipes. Yup, and then we use the baby wipes. She likes it, a little too much if you ask me.

Positive: always willing to cuddle on lap Negative: always leaving dubious streaks on lap

Ollie – cat

Ollie is the cat equivalent of the classic middle child. She's average weight with no really distinctive colourings. She's friendly enough but pretty much keeps to herself (i.e. leaves me alone). Sometimes I forget about her entirely. So clearly she is now my least not-favourite.

Positive: the only non-overweight cat Negative: must have a tapeworm

Polly – cat

Polly is the reason I don't get a good sleep. A couple of times a night, fat Polly will come bounding onto our bed, springboarding off my sleeping body to get to my wife's side, where she will burrow in as close as possible to her head and snore loudly. She bounds past me because she knows she's not welcome on my side. In fact, I can just glare at her and she backs away. This is called chemistry. Like ammonia and bleach.

Polly thinks she's being friendly, but she's a complete boor, just barging in, sticking her claws into you to get on your lap, not taking no for an answer, loud, smelly. She's like Donald Trump, except in this case the pussy grabs you. Positive: when she jumps up and hangs from the door screen and then has to be unlatched by a human, that's good comedy. Negative: pretty much everything else

The Boys – cats

Lincoln and Chandler belong to our daughter Katie, but we're temporarily taking care of them, and by "temporarily" I mean probably forever. The boys don't make a lot of demands, they eat reasonably, are friendly without being needy and seem to understand that they need to earn their keep through occasional cuteness. In fact, the majority of our communications with Katie are just Snapchats of her boys snuggling together.

Positive: don't ravenously devour every scrap of cat food put before them Negative: the girls eat their leftovers = fatter cats = more baby wipes

I hope this gives you a better idea of the pets we live with and also a handy list of suspects after I fatally trip over one of them while walking down the stairs.