It has often been said that a dog is a man’s best friend. That does not hold true in my household, at least from my point of view. Currently, we have a dog, a rabbit and a cat. The dog is tolerable and I rarely have contact with the rabbit, but the cat is cool.
If you would have asked me 10 or more years ago — when there were no pets in our household, other than the occasional crittters a son would drag out of the little stream behind our home and up to our house for a visit — I would have envisioned things being quite the opposite. At that time, I would have told you it would be nice to have a dog to hang out with, a rabbit would have seemed soft and cuddly, and that I could take or leave cats.
It’s funny how experience can change your outlook.
Duke, the dog that’s supposedly a mix between a basset hound and beagle, was inherited from my youngest son — sort of. After he graduated from high school, the son decided that what he most wanted for a gift as his graduation party drew near was a puppy. To make a long story shorter, the son got the dog, went off to college and has since graduated, but we still have the dog.
He (the dog, that is) is OK. He’s part of the family now, but he’s not what I imagined when I imagined having a dog. I imagined walking around outside with a dog following close by my side and relaxing in front of the TV with the dog cozied up next to me.
That’s not Duke. He greets me each time I come home, and on rare occasions will tug on my shirt sleeve wanting to play. But that doesn’t last long, and then he’s content to lay in his doggie bed or the rocking chair that is reserved for his use only. And, if you let him outside without a leash, he might walk with you briefly. But if something distracts him, he’s gone in the blink of an eye.
Rabbi, the rabbit, is nice and cuddly. He’s one of those little, extra furry fellas and is easy to get along with. But he lives outside in a large cage and is a grandson’s responsibility. I don’t see him much, but I hear about him pretty much twice a day. That’s each morning and evening when my wife has to remind the grandson, often several times over, to feed and water his rabbit.
Then there’s Cat-cat. Or you can call him Ziggy or Midnight. I have lost count now, but he must about 17. Midnight is what the grandson named him when he showed up at our house, was fed a couple times, and determined that he had found a new home. I call him Cat-cat. The grandson named him Midnight when he showed up at our house. A couple years later we learned his orginal name was Ziggy. He used to belong a neighbor, but after 11 years must have decided he liked our garage better than her barn.
The garage is where Cat-cat stays when he’s not outside, and this time of year he’s mostly in the garage.
Cat-cat is the most friendly cat I have ever met. He likes everyone.
My sons do not like the cat much. They prefer their dogs. My wife tolerates Cat-cat and buys his food, but does not like it when I let him in the house. The grandson doesn’t seem to pay as much attention to the cat as he once did, but will give him some attention once in a while. I really like the cat. Unlike the dog, Cat-cat minds. He does whatever he is asked and asks little in return. The only problem is that he is sometimes over friendly.
He usually greets me the moment I pull in the driveway. He’ll walk out in front of my car to the point that I’m afraid I’ll squash him. Then he’ll stand near my door waiting for me to get out. As I walk toward the house he is right in step, so close sometimes that he trips me or gets his paws accidentally stepped on (he’s black and very hard to see at night). Once inside the garage he’ll politely ask for some food, then make little sounds like he’s thanking me as I fill his bowl.
If I take a seat in the recliner that’s in front of a TV in the garage, Cat-cat will instantly land on one of the chair’s arms. At his advanced age he can still make a smooth leap from the pool table onto a recliner arm with little effort. Once he’s on an arm of the chair and next to me, he‘ll start moving in for attention. He starts by bumping my arm with his head. That’s an attempt to get my arm out of the way so he can gradually work his way to my thighs. If he makes it there, he’ll proceed to my lap and then start inching his way toward my chest. Then he’ll start bumping my chin with the top of his head. If I do not pay enough attention, he’ll start nibbling my chin, ear lobes or hands.
That scene is repeated over and over every single time I take a seat in the garage.
Sometimes it gets annoying and I shoo him away. He doesn’t like that much, but you can bet that within five minutes or so he’ll be back on the arm of the recliner, bumping my arm with his head.
It’s weird. The cat acts like I thought a dog would, and the dog acts like most cats.
They have both become part of the family and I would miss either one if something happened to them. But I would miss the cat the most. He’s everything a dog should be.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.