We have a number of companion animals in our nuclear unit here in the Great White North. There are four cats, Bella, Charlie, Gus, and Tommy, all rescues from either the Humane Society or privately.
Previous incumbents have included a Black Lab, Ebo, Ralph the Collie/Hound cross and Joseph Arthur Lonley our first cat of nearly twenty years standing. Ebo, Ralph and Joey are still here, their ashes in three urns on the bookcase, keeping watch over us. They’re marked as Present, but not Attending.
A little while ago we added to this mix: Winifred Elizabeth, came to live here.
Winnie had a rough start, being the punching bag for an abusive couple who split up, then after a few moves wound up essentially living only in the kitchen of her previous ‘caregivers’, full time.
Through some connections, we met Winnie and arranged for her to stay where she could be cared for properly and made part of our family. Winnie, of course, accepted.
The first few days with the cats were, to be generous, chaotic. Winnie didn’t know what cats were and tried to play with them like she would play with another 60 pound, 15-month old puppy: Vigorously, with much leaping, bounding and ear-splitting barks.
The cats were of one voice; “What the fcuk is THAT!” as they scurried under beds, or up onto cupboards as high off the floor as possible, hissing and cussing imprecations of a fearsome nature. We were told a few times to “Take THAT THING out of OUR house and drown it in the river NOW!” the chorus usually led by Bella, our 10 year old Queen of the Manor. We are constantly amazed that four of the gentlest, most loving cats can turn so nasty with such rapidity. However, this is evolving.
Winnie is learning her manners and commands, like sit, stay, down and heel, as well as to use the nearby park for waste elimination, instead of the hallway carpet. Being a rescue, she does have a few issues, like a distrust of males, loud noises and a higher level of timidity than one would expect, but she is starting to relax, learn and adapt.
The cats are adapting in their own way, letting Winnie walk by them on the floor without cussing under their breath or offering to open Winnie a new orifice or two. We are not finding the cats rummaging through the knife drawer for my 14” Sabatier chef’s knife (“Gus, help me pick this thing up, it’s too heavy for me. Goddammit, we haven’t got opposable thumbs!”). They have managed to go nose to nose often with Winnie, without a trip to the vet for suturing up Winnie’s snout. Several meals have been taken as a group, without the cats going after her kibble, or Winnie going after their soft food.
More recently, there has been some sharing of the bed, with one or two cats, Winnie, then finally the two humans taking up the last remaining square millimeter of covers that the animals have deigned to let us have. Cat and Dog owners understand this situation, as the Laws of Cat Physics require a 10 pound cat to barely fit on twenty-five square feet of bed.
Winnie has met many of the other neighbourhood dogs that congregate in the park a few doors down our street. The roll call includes: Winston, Moose, Lucky, Sally, Jake, Maggie and perhaps a dozen other unnamed dogs. They have taught Winnie that chase-me-chase-me is fun and so is dodge-human. Dodge-Human, or Bipedal Bowling involves several big, fast, strong, athletic dogs running straight at the bipedals and veering off at the last moment. Most of the time.
We’re not all the way there yet, but we will soon see a sofa full of ears, snouts, butts, legs and tails, all snoozing together, all perfectly comfortable with each other and with us.
Welcome to your Forever Home, Winifred Elizabeth. We’re glad you are here.