I have encountered many kids on my current trip, and more strangers wanting to pet me and tell Mike and Heather how cute I am than I can count. I’m doing much better in these situations, moving from my usual position of hiding behind Heather’s legs all the way to fleeting tolerance of the intruders. I cannot deny all this attention is nice. And I’ve done pretty well getting along with all the dogs I met on the trip, both the ones I encountered casually on a walk or in a La Quinta (pets stay free) and the ones I’ve spent hours or even days with, such as Logan and Pippa in Washington, D.C., Abby and Nelu in Syracuse, Skippy in Avon and Cleo in Innisfil, Ontario. I even maintained my composure when I crossed paths on our trip with chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, birds, deer, antelopes, a moose and a porcupine, content to revel in a good whiff of their scents instead of making my normal no-holds-barred dash to the animal. tree or hole in question.
In fact, there is only one kind of person or animal guaranteed to turn me into a whirling banshee in swift pursuit: Cats.
I’ve read that in my hometown of Seattle, dogs outnumber children. Well, in Syracuse, the same must be true for cats. Just in the neighborhood where we stayed, I saw dozens of them on our daily walks to Barry Park or Nottingham High School, and in the cemetery when we walked there. That kind of daily cat contact is hard to avoid and easy to ignore. But three of these neighborhood cats had the audacity to treat the back yard of our temporary house as their own domain. The two that lived next door, the orange Morris and a gray one whose name I never caught, were of course impossible to get rid of. But that third one, a scrawny gray male who might have been feral, he was my enemy. I peed every place I could to show him who’s boss. Once I surprised him while he was lounging in a flower garden, but my howling and Heather’s taut grip on my rope let him get away.
But my biggest battles came at my aunts’ house. I missed not being right across the street from them, but they gave me a bag of Snausages anyway, so still got excited every time I got to see them. I didn’t so much miss Spanky, their nasty cat who died last fall (R.I.P.), who made wild snarls every time he saw me. Over the winter, aunts Susie and Debby brought home sister kittens Cleo and Bear from a lady in Eastwood who had dozens of cats living in her house (supporting my theory about cats outnumbering children in Syracuse). And as kittens, the gray-striped Cleo and the bushy black Bear, are obviously adorable. Except, of course, for one thing. They will grow up to be cats. And I must wage war on cats, anywhere and everywhere.
So far, I have met only one cat that I get along with, Stan and Laurie’s elegant Dinah. From the get-go, we earned each other’s respect, and as long as I stay away from her food dish, we’re cool. I even get to chew up one of her cat toys now and then.
But Cleo and Bear, they refuse to stay out of my way, and when I chase them upstairs or chew up one of their toys, I get in trouble. Big trouble, and not with my aunts, but with Heather, the Enforcer. I get slammed into down-stay purgatory, while Cleo and Bear sit in the kitchen bay window or at the top of the stairs and laugh at me. Laughed at, by cats. I cannot abide.
We left Syracuse before I caught either one of those little rascals. They can laugh all they want to now, but like General MacArthur, I shall return. I’ve got to chase that cat out of the sink and continue my private war.