“Lassie? Isn’t that just another word for female?” LT was confused. A name was just a name to him.
“The Granddaddy used to call me Lassie sometimes because I followed people around. He told me about an old-time television show about a dog named Lassie and he said I reminded him of that dog.”
LT was horrified. “How could you like being compared to a DOG! Dogs are a lower life form.”
“I don’t know. I’ve met some pretty good dogs in my life, not that I let them know it. It’s just…” Rudy didn’t know how to say what she felt.
“What’s wrong, Rudy?” asked LT. “Life is good. The Daddy came home, we have enough to eat and we have each other.” He snuggled up against her side. Sometimes girl cats just need reassurance, he thought.
“Well, lets start with what you just said. Rudy. Who ever heard of a female named Rudy?” Miss Rudy asked this question quite seriously.
“That’s why your name is Miss Rudy, even though most everyone just says Rudy.” LT saw this wasn’t going over well and added, “I think it’s beautiful. It’s like Ruby which is a lovely red stone for jewelry.”
“Then my name should be Ruby, not Rudy!” Rudy was yelling by now. “But I’m not a pretty red stone, I’m a black and while cat. I wish I had been a Lassie.”
“Um, we could call you Lassie, ‘guess,” said LT.
“That’s not the point LT. Lassie was brave and loyal and a hero, even. I could have been a cat like that, LT but here I am, nothing but a house cat.”
LT didn’t quite know what to do with a cat in crisis. He’d never seen Rudy like this before. Wait, he had an idea. “Rudy, tell me what you would have been like, what you would have done.”
Smiling, Miss Rudy settled down and thought for a minute. “Well, LT, I would have been a very brave cat. I would have protected the barn and our house here from anyone who might have bad intentions. If I had noticed an animal in trouble, I would have helped it, and if I couldn’t I would have found one of the people and made them go the animal. I’m good at that, LT. That’s why the Granddaddy called me Lassie. I’d follow them around, and when I was hungry I’d run to my food container and then run to the person and do that until I was fed. That’s what the dog, Lassie, used to do when something bad happened.
“Maybe if the barn had caught on fire, I could have chased the gray horse out and then ran for the granddaddy and woke him up by meowing by his window until he woke up. I could have been the hero that saved the house from burning down! Or if a bad guy came to the barn to steal the granddaddy’s electrical supplies, I could have bitten or scratched them and chased them away and saved his business. That’s the kind of cat I would have been. Heroic. Brave.” Rudy sighed. “But I’m just scaredy cat Rudy.”
“I don’t know about that, Rudy, and you can’t regret the past.” LT was taking Rudy seriously now. He knew what was bothering her. “I think you’re a pretty good cat just as you are. You’re pretty brave, anyway. You chase off Fuzzy when he’s in our yard or going after the Peep. I don’t know that any of us has had any opportunities to be heroic, but I bet you would be if the time came.”
“Do you really think I’m brave and heroic, LT?” Rudy’s eyes lit up.
“As much as any cat is, Rudy. Cats that keep company with people are called upon to be companions, not heroes. Are you thinking that you should have done something to get the Daddy home sooner?” LT decided to get to what he thought was the root of the problem.
“Well……yes,” Rudy admitted. “When he didn’t come home, I thought that maybe I should go look for him, or do something to make him come home sooner, but I couldn’t think of anything.”
“That’s the point, Rudy. None of us could think what to do, so we just trusted in the higher cat and the yarn lady to take care of us, and they did. We’re fine and the Daddy did come home.”
“He better not go away again, LT. I don’t think I could take the worry.” Rudy sighed and arranged herself for a nap in the sun.
“Me too, Rudy,” said LT.
Photo courtesy of Matthew Trevethan http://flickr.com/photos/gwyrah/28018948/