Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Infinite Superiority of Cats to Dogs

My mother's dog is hyperventilating. Has been for about 30 minutes now, ever since I stepped into the shower to enjoy what I had hoped would be a luxurious 15 minutes of muscle-melting bliss, just me and the Ella Fitzgerald song I've had in my head all day. I'd barely gotten to step one of the shampoo instructions, lather, when I heard over my own self-serenade: "Black coffee, love's a hand me down brew..." Knock, knock, thud! Strange, very strange. A panicked mental checklist: empty house, parents and sister not due back for hours, doors locked, windows locked, shit--the chimney! wait, no chimney... Oh. The dog. My mother's exceptionally needy Schnoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle) and my primary rival for attention and affection when I return home. Hadn't mom mentioned last night that Abbey (the mutt's deceptively demure name) had been acting a bit anxious whenever someone got in the shower? I condescended to the animal's needy nature and interrupted my Ella impersonation with a monotone "Abbey, its fine, you crazy dog." This only provoked more frantic scratching at the door. How many times had I told my mother that dogs only respond to tone and repeated commands, not full sentences, thus rendering her scoldings of "Abbey, dear, it is really very rude to dig through Jessie's suitcase and shred her favorite pair of panties to pieces." completely ineffective. Perhaps the dog had mistaken my soulful croonings for the tonal equivalent of a cry for help. I adjusted my voice to the absurd cooing women seem to instinctually take on when talking to babies--human or animal. "Don't worry Abbs, it is just a shower, stop running your head into the door, take a breath, that's a good girl!" The attack on the door stopped. For about thirty seconds. Then she continued with renewed panic--whining, thumping, and scratching so frantically I was sure the door would have a hole in the middle soon if I didn't do something.

Reluctantly, I grabbed a towel from the rack (in retrospect, I have no idea why I did this. Perhaps I was subconsciously afraid to further scar Abbey's delicate psychology with my nudity) and opened the door. Again, I don't know how I thought this would help--my track history of calming Abbey down is pathetic, if not downright shameful. But there we were: me dripping suds and Abbey practically foaming at the mouth, in a brief showdown before she bolted between my legs to the tub. With her tail between her trembling little legs, she growled and snarled at the viscous jets of water still hitting the porcelain bath. For a moment, I was touched--maybe the mutt thought she was protecting me. But I still had a shower to finish, and this scruffy ball of nerves was making it damn near impossible. So I left the door open and climbed back in the shower, thinking she would be calm if she could supervise. Again, I was mistaken. Abbey tore down half the shower curtain in the frantic attempt to join me in the shower. Panic was in her eyes and she dove paws first into the basin of her fear. This would not do. After much pleading and cooing, I lured her out of the bathroom and halfway down the stairs with the tonal promise of lovely safe things before bolting back up and slamming the door before she could figure out how to turn her body around on the narrow stairs. By then, I was freezing, my hair was slimy with conditioner residue, and I had dog hair stuck to my wet legs and feet. Abbey was back at the door full force, so I had no choice but to rinse off in record time to relieve her stress and mine. Since then, she has not been further than ten inches from my ankles and whines every time I walk into the bathroom to grab the hairdryer or hang up my towel.

The cat, Mercy, meanwhile, has been curled up on the couch, guarding my now cold cup of tea and new book of poetry until my return, at which point she will doing one of several indeterminable things. First, she will show slight annoyance at my intrusion of her resting place, stretch out every link of her long back, and relocate herself on another cushion nearby. From that distance I can observe her graceful contortions while I write, and perhaps catch her gaze as she grooms herself and share a moment of self-satisfied indifference. Or, she may choose to accept my company, reach out a tiny paw and bat the ball of yarn I am knitting onto the floor, where we will watch it slowly unravel until she pounces on it with playful precision. I might crumple a piece of paper and play a lazy, low matainence game of fetch with her for several minutes, until she decides she has had enough and leaves the paper behind in favor of the window sill where she watches birds and invisible things in raptured silhouette. Watching her inspires me to write poetry, or to have an affair with a manic-depressive poet. But for now, she is my only poet-lover. Abbey, on the other hand, is like an infomercial with the volume turned way up, yelling at me about things I don't need. Right now, she needs to be walked.

1 comment:

Mike said...

What a crazy dog! That was well written, sully. I think it made it even better that I am familiar with dear old abbey. I love you and miss you. We must reunite soon or I will be the one hyperventilating. :)