Sunday, October 12, 2008

Junior's coming, hide your cat toys!

“Junior’s coming, hide your cat toys. Junior’s coming, hide your cat toys.” The Mommy had been singing that song around the house for days. The cats knew Junior. He was a little dog - not bad for a dog, but a dog nevertheless. He’d been to the house to visit once before and had been fairly civil, so the cats figured if Jillian brought him over again it would be okay.

But – on Friday morning Jillian showed up with Junior in his carrier along with dog food and then LEFT, the cats were worried. It was fine for Junior to be in the house with his owner but without her who knows how he’d act. Rudy heard Jillian tell the Mommy that she’d call every day and that she’d be home on Sunday night and then Jillian headed out the door, leaving Junior.

Junior looked up at the Mommy and rolled on his back, tail hitting the floor rhythmically. Mommy bent down and rubbed his tummy talking all the while about what a good trick that was. Rudy snorted in disgust. If the best this dog could do was to roll on his back he was low on the dog intelligence scale, and everyone knows how much smarter cats are than dogs. He was no competition for Rudy, at least in the brains department.

As Rudy imagined how she could outsmart him, Junior looked up and saw her. He ran at her, barking furiously. Rudy quickly decided that although she was smarter, he probably had bigger teeth. She ran for the cat door and blasted through it. She didn’t stop until she was in the middle of the yard.

As she sat there shaking, LT sauntered over. “What’s up Miss Rudy? You look a little winded.”

Recovering her composure, Rudy snidely sang, “’Junior’s here, hide your cat toys’. That little monster has been dumped on us for the weekend. He was almost nice when he was here with Jillian, but he just chased me out of my own house! I don’t know what Mommy was thinking of – a dog in OUR house. It’s a cat house, not a dog house. That should be holy, sacred. When I think of what that dog is going to do until he leaves, I could just scream!”

LT shook his head. “Rudy, you have always been way too dramatic. He’s a small dog. If all three of us rushed him, he’d go running with his tail between his legs. We just need to stand up to him a bit. The Mommy loves him, that should be enough for us. We’ll love him until he can love us. Shouldn’t be too hard.” With that, LT sauntered into the house.

Less than two minutes later, LT came streaking out. “I’m too old for this! I’ll be back when he leaves, or if Mommy or Daddy shut him up in a room. Otherwise I’m outahere.” LT took off for the woods. He figured he’d visit some friends for a few hours, maybe even a few days, if he could convince them to feed him. That football with legs wasn’t worth getting upset about, but LT’d just as soon stay away for a bit.

When the cats came in to eat, Junior growled at them. If they didn’t immediately leave he began barking, so they stopped trying to come in to eat by the end of Junior’s first day there. Mommy put their dinner outside, where they gathered to eat before the Cat Club Meeting.

“I don’t know how long this dog is staying, but he can’t leave soon enough for me,” said Peep. “No way I’m sleeping out here. There are big scary things in the night. They’ll come and eat me.”

Rudy had already decided that she’d be sleeping in the garage that night. It might not be as warm as the house, but she’d make herself a comfortable spot and settle in where it was safe.

The Cat Club meeting was a “We Hate Dogs” meeting. Everyone there had a story about what dogs had done to them. Even Peep had a story. Junior had cornered her in the house that afternoon, and she’d had to leap over him to get to safety. She told the story, and then announced that she’d decided to take up residence in the box spring until “that dog” left.

Saturday was an uneasy day for the cats, particularly since Junior seemed less and less amiable. Peep, who was the only one still inside heard him barking and growling. To Mommy, Daddy and the yarn lady, it was just noise, but Peep heard what he was saying, and suddenly Peep wasn’t quite so angry at him anymore.

“Why did she go and leave me like this? How could My Lady abandon me? Isn’t it enough that I’ve been abandoned twice in my life already? I’m an old dog – too old to learn to live with three cats who don’t even like me. My Lady’s mother’s cats like me. They snuggle with me, and lick my ears. These cats just run like I’m some sort of a monster. Oh, I want My Lady to come home! Arooooo!”

Junior was miserable. It wasn’t that he hated them, they just didn’t know each other. She didn’t think she really wanted to get to know him well enough to lick his ears, but no one deserved to be so miserable, even if he was a dog.

After everyone went to bed that night and Junior was put into the computer room with the door closed, Peep crept out and stood outside the door. She checked to see that it was closed securely, and then called Junior’s name. “Junior – it’s Peep. Can I talk to you for a minute?”

To the humans, Junior began to bark furiously, but what Peep heard was, “What the heck do you want, cat? I’m lonely, this isn’t my home, and you want to torment me some more?”

“No, Junior. I just want to tell you a little story, if you’ll let me. Something happened to me this summer just like what’s happening to you right now, but it turned out okay. Your mommy will come back, believe me. I heard my Mommy say that your owner was only going for three days, and since I learned how to count this summer, I know that she should be back tomorrow. I learned to trust my Mommy this summer – you need to trust yours. If she says she’ll come back she will. She’s called you each day, didn’t she? She wouldn’t do that if she didn’t love you.”

She heard a plop from the other side of the door. “You’re right, Peep, but I’m still so miserable. The only times My Lady has left me since I came to live with her she took me to her mother’s house where I slept with the cats. They’re warm and they like to purr a lot.”

Peep sighed. “Would it help if I sat here for a while and purred really loud? I can’t snuggle with you, because the door is closed, but I can purr for you. Maybe that will help you fall asleep.”

Junior yipped a happy yes, and Peep settled down to purr loudly. Within minutes she heard doggy snores from the other side of the door. Peep got up and turned around to see LT and Rudy staring at her with wide eyes.

“Why were you purring at a door? Have you lost your mind, Peep?” LT was very concerned. Peep was effected very much by disruptions, and he thought that maybe she’d broken down altogether.

“Nope – I was just purring Junior to sleep. It turns out that he’s just lonely. He’s like us. He thought Jillian had abandoned him, just like his old owners had abandoned him. Well, I’m tired, let’s go to bed.” With that, Peep ran into the bedroom and jumped on the bed, and snuggled in next to the Daddy’s legs. He was so warm, and she was asleep within minutes.

In the morning, Junior was still upset, but he’d lapsed mostly into depression. He lay in his travel case, head on his paws and alternately dreamed of My Lady and worried that she’d never come home. Late in the afternoon, he heard this house’s lady call out to him, “You’re going home now Junior – your mommy’s home.”

Junior huddled deep into his case, and if he’d been able to he’d have zipped it up for the lady. He was so ready to go home.

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