It’s impossible of a summer evening not to run into neighbors walking their dogs. It’s a good excuse to stop and chat, pet the fine beasts, ask the dog’s name (and the neighbor’s!), and generally “chew the fat”. There are large dogs, small dogs, short dogs and long dogs, and they all have to “do their business” on a neighbor’s lawn!
Now etiquette requires that dog owners pick up their pooch’s poop with an inverted plastic baggie. Some do, and some let their dog just do it! Male dogs lift their leg on your favorite rose bush, female dogs squat with embarrassment wherever. Owners also tend to look embarrassed at their dog’s doings, and weary at the routine of “The Walk” itself.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood cats saunter along their porches warily eyeing the passing dogs, whose owners stick to the sidewalks which wind up and down the neighborhood hills. The cats calmly station themselves at each house’s top step, better to get a view of the proceedings. There are black cats, striped cats, orange cats, tri-colored cats, brown cats, tabby cats, and what we call “trashy cats”–those multiplied stray black-and-white cats that never seem to find a proper home.
There are cats-in-windows, and cats-on-car-tops, cats on stairsteps and cats-under-bushes, calmly surveying the scene. The gardens of the houses make for perfect cat-forts, and the shade trees are great to hide behind.
Now then, it has long been said that you are either a dog person or a cat person, but there are those, like me, who fancy both. Each creature must be cared for in its own way, and each provides companionship differently. Cats are considered cleaner than slobbery dogs, and they know where their litter box is! Dogs really, really have to be taken for walks every day, rain or shine! And dog food, cat food, and veterinarian expenses add up, along with toys, treats, and other paraphernalia.
Dogs and cats have been a part of my family since I was a tyke. Now, after my cat Spice died of a mysterious illness, we were left with his brother Bear, who has literally become King of the Castle! Now going on 15 years old, this cat is strong, fat and totally pampered: heavy cream, salmon flakes, tuna, chicken, kibbles–whatever the cat wants, the cat gets! Upstairs, downstairs, inside, out, the cat has total run of the house.
He still climbs the backyard trees and pretend-stalks the jays, crows and squirrels. He has a “cat condo” with openings-to-enter, but he prefers either to sit on my chair, the couch, the floor or a warm lap. Calm and cool, he hardly meows and stretches himself out like a banana on the carpet when the temperature rises. He looked just like a brown bear cub when he was born: thus the name!
Since, looking back, I realize that I have had many cats in my life, I wrote an ODE TO CATS for your perusal.
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