Cats and dogs 

Published 10:45 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

It’s not uncommon when one, whether watching television or doing something as banal as munching cereal at the kitchen counter, catches sight of something from the corner of the eye.

For me, it was a flash of orange flying through the air and when I snapped my head around to look, witnessed our rescued cat William—now hale, hearty and particularly agile—grab hold of the drapery above the French doors on his way down from the top of the fridge and land on the floor below with an almighty clatter.

And of course, this happened as I was on my way out the door, already late for an appointment.

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I like to think that our children in fur pajamas are relatively well-behaved—I’d LIKE to, but the truth of the matter is that whenever Paul is away it’s as if there’s been a secret huddle in which it’s been decided by all the cats and dogs to treat me like a substitute teacher. Memories of Sidney Portier encountering his class of East End terrors upon his first day of teaching from ‘To Sir, With Love’ wash through my brain each time I come into the house during the day. I nearly expect to be hit with a water balloon.

This morning I woke to find shredded, red tissue paper wrapping (from where I’ve no idea) strewn down the hallway punctuated by bits of crinkled cellophane. Did they get into a closet? A drawer? A trip to Dollar General during the night?

If it were only the cats they could at least become ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when I close the mudroom door on the way to the barn. But it isn’t. 

While the dogs can be just as disobedient with Paul, his booming voice which, even as a whisper, sounds plugged into a megaphone, garners more respect than mine. They bookend me as we start our very short walk to the barn, jogging two by two and receiving the praise of, ‘Good girls! Now stay close,” just as one of them spots something far more appealing and takes off into the woods, her sister catching a draft right behind her tail. 

Poppy is usually the instigator as, while both dogs undoubtedly have a good bit of hound in them, Poppy has a Jack head: brown, with a little white between her willful eyes. And when the terrier part of her head takes hold, anything within sight becomes Jack crack and no amount of yelling and cursing from me is heeded.

As I cleaned stalls I could hear Poppy barking repeatedly in the woods and knew I’d probably see her again come Tuesday. Emptying the wheelbarrow into the tractor bucket, I gave a nod of smiling approval to Posey who had clearly heard my whistle and trotted back to adhere to my summons. Peeling off my work gloves with my back to her, I turned round to pat her before becoming overcome with revulsion.

‘Oh, my God!’ I cried.

Had the green smear of horse manure across her neck and down one side not been enough, dangling proudly from her mouth was the decomposing hind leg of a deer.

“IN THE HOUSE!” I bellowed, before realizing the bath she would immediately receive would be lacking towels to dry her as they were still in the washing machine. Hurt that her deer leg wasn’t received with delighted gratitude, she walked before me slowly, tail tucked between her legs, as I vainly tried to hurry her along, adding, “Drop it. DROP IT!”

Scrubbing her from head to toe, I didn’t care if there were no towels to dry her. She could roll around in shredded red tissue paper for all I cared.