Dogs, cats and the pain of it all

Published 10:05 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

I have been thinking a lot this week about Martha Stewart.

 

Not about her spot-on culinary skills or business acumen or marketing finesse, all of which she has in spades, but about what happened to her cat, “Princess Peony.”

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Her Persian calico cat, adopted in 2009, was killed by her four dogs who decided the snub-nosed feline was an interloper on the property. “Princess Peony” was buried in Stewart’s yard. She posted a picture on social media and expressed her sadness.

It is a dynamic I know well.

One of our adopted dogs, “Hudson,” is a sweetheart. His facial expression and body size project “Beware,” but his demeanor belies the look. He is a gentle and protective giant to children, as patient with them as a grandfather. He once sat for the longest time, barely moving, on a sidewalk in Gatlinburg as a seemingly endless parade of children stopped to pet him. Once, when one of our grandchildren came to stay at the farm, she asked if she could walk him. Off they went around the farm. Out of sight. No leash. Side by side for nearly an hour.

 

After the visit ended and we had said our goodbyes, “Hudson” moped for two days, returning over and over to “their” bedroom.

 

So imagine that day at the blueberry field behind the tractor shed. All was quiet until “Roxie” suddenly appeared, far from her barn. In an instant, he attacked her for no reason other than that she suddenly was there. I got him off her, and the vet tried to save her, but it was not to be.

 

I understand that some dogs have a strong instinct to hunt prey, and it’s important to control their environment. Our barn cats have always been kept in the barn and allowed outside only when the dogs are contained, but on this fateful day she had somehow gotten out of the barn and wandered far afield.

The pain was a gut punch.

 

Years have passed. Now “Hudson” has become an old dog, like me I suppose. He struggles to rise. Lifting his leg is no longer an option, and when he stands his back legs quiver for a minute or two. Where he used to be able to jump the backyard fence, now he struggles to get onto the sofa.

I often wonder whether he had been returned to Foothills Humane Society three times before we got him because of that prey drive, but I have never regretted adopting him. Rarely, however, do I look at him in the morning and not think about that day and the pain of it all.

It likely won’t go away for Martha, either.

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com