It all started when we woke up to discover Ben dripping blood all over the decking. The ageing Lab, oblivious to his limitations, had been in a stoush with the brutish, brawling hound up the street. And there it was: two deep punctures in his leg and a chunk out of his ear.
A trip to the vet and poor Ben returns sprouting tubes in all directions with a truckload of antibiotics the size of golf balls.
As if that wasn't enough animal drama for one week, Charlotte the feline was due to get her little job done.
Andrew collected the groggy beast that afternoon and when I got home and opened the laundry door to see the patient, I was somewhat puzzled. Sure she had the same unmistakable grey and white and ginger speckled coat but she was suspiciously larger with different colour eyes. And when she let out a demure little meow I knew for sure it wasn't Charlotte the squawker.
Now Justine was insistent this was indeed her cat, the real McCoy, reasoning bravely that she had just "spread out" with the operation. But big brother Daniel issued his verdict when he declared loudly: "Whose cat is that?" followed by macabre speculation that the real Charlotte had been accidentally killed on the operating table and stealthily replaced.
Final confirmation came when the placid puss wobbled forth and caught sight of Ben festooned with tubes and arched her back and hissed as startled cats are wont to do. Why only the day before the pair had been smooching up together.
That was it. The imposter was going back. At the Vets, waiting anxiously for their beloved moggy, was an elderly couple who had put in a fretful night wondering why their Cocoa had suddenly shrunk and was behaving rather badly like meowing its head off, jumping on benches and stealing food and climbing the flyscreens; all this just hours after an operation which would have left lesser creatures somewhat subdued.
The exchange was made and we reluctantly got back our little Charlotte, alias The Rat, with a nagging thought that maybe we would have been better off keeping the sweet-natured Cocoa.
I don't know what it is about our family but we have a knack for creating neurotic cats. First there was Harmony with his habit of drooling buckets of saliva over dinner guests and staring vacantly into space due to brain damage.
Harmony, who wandered off into the sunset when his favourite window was accidentally closed, was followed by Zoe, the Himalyan Persian furbag who did its business in all the wrong places just to spite us for not giving it enough attention; that being, stroking her luxuriant fleece 24 hours a day. She went to a devoted new owner who had the time and inclination to pamper and lavish her with the attention Zoe felt she so richly deserved.
And then came... The Rat. I like a spunky cat but really, scurrying up the lattice like a demented rodent then falling three metres onto its back is a bit of a nuisance, especially when all the time I'm standing there with a paintbrush painstakingly painting every bit of these lattice panels and running short on patience for such silly antics!
From Pet Madness to Home Renovator hi jinx. We courageously or stupidly, take your pick, opted to do the paving around the new pool ourselves. These past weekends have seen the normally deskbound Andrew on the end of a whacker packer compressing 55 square metres of crusher dust and vibrating his way into the Fruit Tingle Man with his fillings rattling around his head.
Next weekend we plan to lay the pavers. And what fun that will be for the whole family! "Hey kids, I've come up with an exciting activity. It's just like Legos, only the pieces are bigger and there's more of them!" I'm only hoping that the family that paves together, stays together.