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‘Merry Christmas, nearly everybody.’ Ogden Nash.

cat fight3.42am and I was woken by an earsplitting, inhuman howl which seemed, inexplicably, to be emanating from directly behind my left ear.  I peeled myself off the ceiling, flicked the light on and was attempting to calm the dogs down (who were by this time all running up and down the bed, barking and growling and snapping at each other in their fright) before I realised that the sound was actually a cat fight going on underneath my bedroom window.

Now I like cats but—damn—why does it always seem to happen outside my bedroom window.  Going outside to shoo the cats way only seemed to wind them up a notch, thus inciting dogs Harry and Sasha from next door, and Max, Storm, Caesar, Turbo and Rosie from further down the road to join in with the unholy racket. Somehow I don’t think I am going to be the only cranky-pants, bleary-eyed pet owner on my street today.

Eventually the caterwauling stopped. I guess they got bored—or realised they had successfully woken every person and every dog in a three block radius and had therefore done their work.  My girls went back to sleep immediately (so irritating) and I was left to lie there, waiting, hoping, to fall back asleep.  I didn’t.

By the time I was beginning to get sleepy again the ‘dawn chorus’ was starting up.   singingbirdOne lone kookaburra started to chuckle quietly to himself and I remember thinking, ‘Here we go’.  Sure enough, he was followed by an answering giggle and and then a full on belly-laugh, and before long they were all laughing hysterically—no doubt gossiping about the outcome of last night’s cat commotion.  Then the magpies joined in, in full voice, and once I heard the first black cockatoo screech I knew it was all over.  Who can sleep through that?  Time to get up.

garfieldchairIt was barely light yet but at least it was dry (we’ve just had four days and nights of absolutely torrential non-stop rain) so I decided to walk them down to the beach.  This morning Molly decided she wanted to come with us.  This was unusual.  Molly doesn’t ‘do’ mornings.  In the world according to Molly, mornings are for stretching, breakfast and straight back to bed. Mornings are definitely not for walking.  (Molly could give Garfield a run for his money when it comes to laziness and food).

But today she came running up and did her little ‘take me, take me’ dance.  In spite of the fact that she was so enthusiastic (and she definitely needs the exercise) I was hesitant.  I have been bitten before (figuratively speaking).  I like to stride out with Mabel and Maude in the morning and get a good long walk in.  Molly gets all gung-ho and raring to go—and then we get to the end of the road and around the corner, and she will suddenly stop dead, and sit.  And sit.  And sit.  Once she has decided she will go no further there is no moving (or dragging) her.  Believe me I’ve tried.

black stuffed toy1Once, in my frustration, I even dropped her lead and walked away with the other girls.  I walked blocks and blocks and when I looked back, there she was, a tiny black dot, sitting in exactly the same place I left her.  Stubborn as.  And by the time we got back to her she was still sitting, unmoved, like a little doggie stuffed toy—and, once she realised I was no longer going to try to persuade her to go further, she happily trotted all the way home.  I can still see that little smug smile on her face.

(Seeing how well it worked for Molly, Mabel tried the same trick once.  I dropped her lead and walked away from her and got maybe ten feet before she came hurtling up behind me, crying ‘Don’t leave me, don’t leave me’.  Bless.)

Anyway today Molly swore to me she would walk the whole way, so I gave in.  And, surprisingly, she was as good as her word.  She huffed and puffed a bit but she didn’t pull up once and we got to the beach, just as it was coming light.  I did a quick scan up and down and saw we were the only ones there so I let the girls off their leads so they could have a good run around.

spotty dog runningOr at least Maudie could have a good run around.  Maudie loves the beach.  As soon as she hits the sand she is away, and she runs and runs and runs.  No direction, no purpose, just pure joy.  Mabel (you may have already guessed this) is scared of the beach.  She will stay as close to my ankles as she can without tripping me.  The delights of the beach are totally wasted on Mabel.  And Molly, on the few occasions we have actually managed to get her that far, likes to potter around in the bushy, grassy areas of the dunes, looking for good smells and dead things to roll in.

So I was a bit taken aback with slow and steady Molly, whose top speed is usually a slow waddle, suddenly shot past me at full throttle and hurtled back the way we had just come.  It only took one look over my shoulder to see why.   #$%&*.   Kangaroos.  A small group of ‘roos  had silently appeared and were grazing quietly in the dunes close to the bush.

kangaroo on beach‘Oh how lovely’, you might think.  And you’d be right.  They are beautiful, gorgeous creatures.  When seen from a distance.  And when not being chased by a small, fierce, hopped-up-on-adrenalin Pomeranian.  Up close and cranky they are a lot bigger than you’d think and they can be pretty scary.  One could easily kill a Molly-dog if provoked.  Molly, of course, could give two hoots about that. Molly is a Wolf in Pomeranian clothing.

There was nothing for me to do but run along the beach after her, calling desperately for her to ‘Stop. Stay. Heel.’   All to no avail.  She was ‘in the zone’.  What a sight we must have made.  Kangaroos bounding gracefully along the deserted beach. Molly, little legs going ten to the dozen, pelting after them.  Maude, running after her, laughing, and looking over her shoulder at me—with no idea what all the excitement was about, but loving the game anyway.  And me, a long way behind (me—running on sand—dear God—seriously?) and carrying Mabel, who was so upset by the sudden dramatic turn of events she looked like she might need resuscitating at any moment.

Molly - Kangaroo Hunter

Kangaroo Hunter

And then, quite suddenly, the kangaroos and Molly left the beach and vanished into the thick bush.  #$%&*, again.  Even if I could have seen where they went I couldn’t take the other two girls into the bush after them, so all I could do was wait on the beach, pacing and calling, my heart in my mouth, and hope that Molly would soon reappear.  Thankfully, she did.

Fifteen minutes later she wobbled out of the bush, exhausted, covered in sand, bits of bush and other debris sticking out of her fur at all angles, and her little pink tongue hanging out about a foot.   I  was so relieved she was all in one piece I couldn’t even be cross with her.  Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her quite so happy . . .

Of course, she was also so pooped I had to carry her all the way back to the house.

An hour later we were all safely home, clean, fed, and in the case of the girls, sleeping again.  What more could three little dogs ask for?

They got to shout abuse at cats in the middle of the night and and encourage all their doggie friends in the street to do the same.  The got to go to the beach in the early early morning and play in the sand and bark and run and chase kangaroosor at least, chase Molly who was chasing kangaroos.   They all got hugs and kisses from their Mum for being good brave girls during all the drama (even Mabel) and they all got a yummy Christmas breakfast when they got home. And now they are sleeping on their brand new Christmas beds, with their new Christmas teddy (which Maudie has killed twice already) and the remnants of the Christmas wrapping paper (which was Mabel’s favourite present).  Best.Christmas.Day.Ever.   And the day isn’t even half over yet.

dogpompomsSo they’re happy,  and that means I’m happy (and also in need of a stiff drink and lie down).  And I hope you are too.  Happy I mean—not in need of the drink and the lie down . . .  although it is Christmas.  I also, most sincerely, hope you had a gentler start to your Christmas Day.

So—from me to you— ‘Merry Christmas, nearly everybody.’  (I am not extending that greeting to the owners of last night’s cats.  I am still pissed off about those cats . . . )

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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‘ “Meow” means “woof” in cat.’ George Carlin.

Silver is sleeping in the sun on his driveway. He’s a big beautiful old grey cat, and dozing on the warm asphalt in the late afternoon sun is one of his favourite things to do. We see him there most days as we go past on our walk. Mabel will ignore him, Maudie will rumble menacingly at him (only under her breath thoughI think she is a bit scared of him), and dog-barking-at-cat-336498Mollywell Molly will puff herself up to twice her usual size (which is still only about half the size of this cat) and frantically hurl doggie-insults about cats and their mothers until she is well out of earshot. Silver will occasionally open an eye to see what all the noise is about, but usually he will just yawn, flex his paws, stretch out full length, smile and go back to sleep. So not bothered. Silver is one cool dude.

I miss my cats. I think people often assume that if you only have dogs that you probably just don’t like cats. That may well be true for some people, but not for me. I love cats. Cats owned me long before I owned dogs.

black kittenA couple of weeks after I first came back to Australia after an extended period living overseas I found myself living in a city where I didn’t know a soul. One day I went into town to buy groceriesand came home with two tiny six-week old kittens and a bag full of cat food, cat litter and cat paraphernalia (I can’t remember whether I actually bought any groceries). It was impulsive, yes, but I never once regretted it. And I never felt lonely again. I loved those two little cats. I loved their big yellow eyes, their soft shiny fur, their insatiable curiosity, deep rumbling purrs and their tiny kitty-cat feet. I would sit and watch them for hoursplaying or sleeping, or eating, or chasing dust motes or just sitting blissed-out in the sun.

black cat stalkingThe girl, Cleo, grew up to be a lovely, gentle, even-tempered little girl who loved to be stroked and fussed and cuddled. Her brother, Jess, on the other hand, turned into a huge beast of a cat who liked to spend his time stalking the neighbours through their gardens, creeping quietly up on them and then suddenly exploding out of the bushes and frightening the crap out of them. I always pretended to be cross with him (for the neighbour’s sake) but, just quietly, it was pretty hilarious.

(Less hilarious was his penchant for knocking things off my dressing-room table when he wanted his breakfast and I wanted a bit of a lie-in. In my sleepy stupor I would hear him gently tap, tap, slide, slide, tap and slide the bottles and jars around, and when I continued to ignore him it would get all too much and—wham—off the table one of the bottles would go. I would be out of bed in a flash and he would be off and running (and laughing) all the way into the kitchen—where I would find him ready and waiting for breakfast with a big smug smile on his face. Used to make me crazy.)

When the cats were about 10 years old I decided it was time to add a dog to our little family. The cats would be fine, I thought. They were fat and happy and well-adjusted, I thought. It wouldn’t be a drama, I thought. Who was I trying to kid? I can still see the look of abject disgust on Jessie’s face the day I bought that six week old pup (Harry) into the house. Jess was 19 years old when he died and I don’t think he ever really changed that initial opinion of Harry one iota over the next 9 years of his life.

stuffed dog&catAnd it wasn’t one sided either. Harry didn’t like Jess, right back at him. Harry, my lovely, adorable, feisty little Harry came out of the womb hating cats. Sigh. There was constant hissing and spitting and growling and snapping, and I would cajole and plea and bribe and even get cranky with them, all to no avail. I would see pictures of other people’s cats and dogs, all cuddled happily up together on the sofa, or piled up in a doggie bed together, and conclude that either one or the other of the animals in these pictures just had to be stuffed. It was never going to happen in my house.

But, over time (and when it eventually became obvious to them that I wasn’t going to give anyone away) they did manage to work out their own set of rules. As long as nobody sat too close to anybody elseor went near anybody else’s food dishor pushed in for a cuddle while someone else was already having oneor inadvertently came around a corner unexpectedly and gave someone a frightthings eventually settled into a nice routine, and we all bimbled along fairly harmoniously.

So I got another dog.

Frankie and Harry were polar opposites. In his whole life Harry only ever really loved me and Frankie (and thank God he loved Frankie too, it would have been awful if he hadn’t). He couldn’t really have cared less about anyone else.

Frankie

Frankie

Frankie loved me and Harryand everybody else he ever met. And that included the cats. From the very first day he was enamoured of them. He would sidle up to them, wriggling from his nose to his tail, desperate to get close to them. They, naturally, were mortally offended (how dare he?) and poor Frankie got his ears boxed more than once for his trouble. He would then spend the next couple of hours doing his utmost to apologise to them for his crass behaviour, which only exasperated them even more. Bless. But he never gave up, and in the end I think he just wore them down. He had so much love to give and those cats were going to get some of itwhether they liked it or not.

Cleo and Frank became snugglebuddies and would often cuddle together in the doggie bed in front of the heater (miracles can happen—if you wait long enough). Jess, although less inclined to snuggle, stopped hissing and spitting and ear boxing and even occasionally let Frankie lick his ears (while also trying really really hard not to purr).

Harry

Harry

Even Harry’s hatred of cats eventually mellowed under the onslaught of Frankie’s love. Well, ‘mellowed’ is perhaps too strong a word. Harry became more ‘tolerant’ of the cats. He would even allow them to sit next to Frank as long as they didn’t also touch him in the process. And he would also protect ‘his’ cats from other visiting dogs—he was allowed to be mean to them, but no-one else was.  Earlier grievances between Harry and Jess were mostly forgotten on those freezing cold Armidale winter nights when they would all pile into bed with me, with only the smallest amount of grumbling if someone had to get up during the night and came back to bed with cold feet.

It is many years now since I have had cats in the house.  Jess and Cleo both lived to ripe old age, as did Harry and Frank, but somehow it was dogs that started to take over my life and now when I need a cat ‘fix’ I have to make do with the occasional smooch from a neighbouring feline. And, although I am perfectly happy with my three doggie-girls, occasionally I will see a sign at the local pet shop  ‘Kittens Available’, and I will remember my lovely cats and have to put my head down and walk away really, really fast so as not to be temptedbecause it would be so easy to be tempted.

Molly

Molly

Instead I will keep telling myself that when Molly has had her summer clip it almost feels like I am stroking a cat. And, if you pat her in just the right way, she stretches out full length and flexs her little feet like a cat too.

Sadly, she doesn’t purr. She does, however, snore—and loudly.

It’s not quite the same  . . .

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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