Friday, June 03, 2011

The Case of the Missing Fuzzy

Today is Friday. About a week and a half ago, Jelly lost her fuzzy. This is serious business.

Jelly has a multitude of fuzzies at home, but she concerns herself with only one of them. It's a white sphere of some kind of animal fur (probably fake). Originally, when I bought it in Virginia, it had a red elastic band attached to the center, and we played with it until the elastic broke off.

After that, Jelly became quite attached to her white fuzzy. She'd carry it around in her mouth, head held high, and sometimes bat it around on the wood floor. Eventually we started a game. Each night, I would put the fuzzy on my night stand before getting in bed to read. Jelly would come in, stand up on her hind legs, and reach out to the fuzzy on the table top. Pulling it toward her with a paw, she'd grab it with her mouth, turn around, and prance out of the room with it.

Then I'd hear her squeaking and mewing with the fuzzy for a while until it was time for her to go to bed. Inevitably, the fuzzy would be missing in the morning and eventually I'd look under my big comfy swivel chair and dig it out for her.

This has gone on for well over a year. I almost always knew where to find the fuzzy—under the chair where she couldn't get to it. One time that it was missing, I searched high and low for two days. I finally found it in between the sheets at the foot of my bed.

One other time I saw it in the litter box, half buried. Fortunately, it wasn't soiled. When I returned it, Jelly was unfazed.

After we moved to our new place, Jelly started losing her fuzzy under the laundry room door; or, sometimes I'd find it in the hall closet. Most every night, it's the same game: "Find the fuzzy."

Even on evenings when I was tired and all settled in with my book, I'd get out of bed to find the fuzzy if I'd forgotten to pick it up and put it on the night stand—because Jelly would be up on her hind legs looking for it, wondering why I wasn't playing the game.

On an extended search not long ago, I found the fuzzy buried in the litter box. This time it was not clean. It was attached to a kitty poopie. I took it out and rinsed it well in hot water. After it dried, it stank. So I washed it with soap and hot water, drying it with a hair dryer. It still stunk. I was sure that Jelly would have nothing to do with it.

So I went to the toy basket deep in the closet and got out a brand new white fuzzy, cutting off the elastic string. I took it to Jelly. One sniff and it was over for that fuzzy. She blatantly shunned it. Boy was I wrong. It tried yet another fuzzy. Same deal. I finally tossed her the stinky fuzzy; she gladly picked it up with her mouth, prancing off and mewing happily.

Before the fuzzy went missing, I could line up all three nearly identical white fuzzies in front of her, swap them around (like the shell game)—and she'd still pick up only the one particular fuzzy. Like a kid with his blankie. So I've felt obligated to do everything in my power to ensure the safe return of the fuzzy.

Last Tuesday or Wednesday after lights out, I inadvertently found the fuzzy in the sheets before falling asleep and tossed it blindly on top of the night stand. The next morning it was gone, and I haven't seen it since. Over the past nine or so days I've looked everywhere—at least two or four times. It's driving me nuts. That fuzzy is nowhere to be found. This has never happened.

And it breaks my heart. Each night, Jelly comes into the bedroom, sits up on the leather bench, and peers over at the night stand longingly. She looks to me, looks at the bed and the ottoman (where I have sometimes put the fuzzy for her to retrieve), and gives up.

Last weekend after searching every pillow case, I stripped the bed and washed the sheets. I donned rubber gloves and went through the kitchen trash, piece by piece. No fuzzy. Later I took the vacuum cleaner bag outside, ripped it open, and meticulously sifted through the piles of interwoven hair and lint. I knew I wouldn't find it in there, but I wouldn't rest without checking. I went through the used kitty litter in the litter trash can, breaking it up clump by clump. It wasn't in the Dust Buster or any of the house plants. It wasn't in any drawer or under any piece of furniture in this apartment. It isn't under or behind any cushin. I couldn't find it in any pocket in my coat closet. (Like it could land there in the first place.)

The cabinets have been searched. Yesterday I went back through the lower drawers, pulling out and shaking every piece of clothing. I took every cloth grocery bag out of my car trunk and hall closet. I emptied every basket. I went through every one of my 160+ shoes. I checked around all the stereo components enclosed in my A/V cabinet, under every pillow, behind the bed headboard.

I've looked behind books on shelves. Under the bed. Behind toilets. I pulled up every rug and looked under every appliance with a flash light multiple times. I checked around the hot water heater and dryer hose. Last night I took a flash light and painstakenly peeked into the crevice behind every dresser drawer (to the best of my ability).

I'm going insane.

Yesterday, on my mom's advice, I tried rubbing catnip on one of the other white fuzzies then coaxing Jelly to make friends with it. Nope. No dice. To create a positive association, I put it next to her food bowl. I put it next to her favorite treats on the floor as she gobbled them up. No good. She wants her fuzzy. It's her baby.

Nonetheless, I am going to continue encouraging her to adopt the "other" fuzzy as her own. For the old one is gone. Gone, gone, gone. I still have a hard time accepting that, and it's tough to not keep looking. I'm not sure which one of us needs therapy.

Fuzzy being rejected earlier this evening (note Jelly's ears folding back):