Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fun and Games.

The new dog is very well, thanks for asking. I keep waiting for the crazy to slither out and, say, eat the armoire, but there doesn’t appear to be any crazy in him. There are only doe-eyes, a constantly wagging tail and the most uniformly happy disposition ever seen outside a cult. His demands are simple: he wants to be with us. More specifically, he wants to be with me. After living with an intermittently moody Dalmatian for six years, it’s odd to be adored. Polly, the Dalmatian, actually preferred my mother’s company to mine. I’d take her over to visit my mom, only to have to drag her from the house, front legs wrapped around my mother’s waist, moans of terror letting the world know I was ripping her away from the only mother she had ever known. The new dog loves my mother, as he loves everyone in his life who tells him he’s sweet and in the right light resembles Orlando Bloom. But I’m the only poster on the inside of his locker.

When you get a new dog and you have the kind of friends I have, you go through something like a weeks-long baby-shower. I’d bring him to meet people, people would come to meet him, people would coo over him, and people would bring him presents. Unlike when Daughter was born, no one has given me burp cloths, which is good, because I never did understand what I was supposed to be doing with them. What my friends have brought are toys and chewies, and these are both completely appropriate and always welcome. He has taken all of them to his bed and frequently tries to take them with him up onto the couch. But his great love right now is a toy I found in the “slightly-dented-and-drooled-upon” discount bin at the local pet store. It is a fuzzy stuffed lizard in a shade of blue which offends even the blind. In its plump middle is a squeaker. He loves his lizard toy almost as much as he loves me. In truth, he might love Lizard more because I eventually complain if he drools on me, and Lizard never does. At least once a day, he races to find Lizard, brings it to me, and we have a rousing game of fetch until one of us has to go back to writing or needs a cup of tea.

Lulabelle the cat watches all of this with an almost palpable scorn. She is long past worrying whether or not the dog is going to hurt her, and a few needle-sharp nails to the nose has taught the dog to cut her a wide berth for the most part. But she watches him with a visible contempt -- a certain curl to her upper lip. I’m pleased about this, because while I have no science to back this up, a lifetimes’ observation of cats leads me to believe cats need to hate something. It focuses them. Otherwise, the life of the average housecat is just a tedious stream of needs met and butts scratched. Having something in their lives which fills them with disgust gives them something to write about in their journals. And as far as the cat is concerned this dog might be the perfect manifestation of inanity.

At least once a day, the dog makes social overtures:

(Dog walks up to cat, who is grooming her bikini area.)

DOG: Hi!

(Cat, startled, snaps her head around and glares at the dog.)

CAT: W….H….A…T…?

DOG: You look especially pretty today. Did you do something new with your ears?

CAT: (Raising one paw) Do you need the nail?

DOG: You’re busy, I’ll check in later.

Yesterday, the dog produced Lizard and shook it in front of me in a taunting way. I knew the cue and said sternly, “Drop it”.

We’re back in obedience training, and the new teacher advocates hand-signals, rather than words. She swears that when we think they are listening to what we say, they’re actually picking up on body language, so we might as well go directly to the hand-signal. This is fine, but we haven’t gotten to the signal for “Leave it”, so I go with the tried-and-true stern voice and waiting.

After a minute or so, the dog dropped the lizard and I picked it up while singing “GOOD dog!” I then flung the lizard across the room.

If joy has ever had a physical form, it was this dog, nails scrabbling to find purchase on the hardwood floor, racing after his favorite toy. He pounced on Lizard, and brought it back to me, tail waving proudly. For centuries, his ancestors recovered wounded birds back from the marsh to their owners's feet, but no dog was ever more proud than my dog was of his plush electric-blue prey. So pleased was he, in fact, that while he ran away from me toward Lizard and ran back to me with Lizard, he raced past the cat no fewer than eight times. The first few times, the cat went to the trouble of arching and puffing up her fur at the galloping beast headed her way, clearly meaning her harm. By time six, she wasn’t arching or puffing any more. She was icily watching him bound back and forth, flipping her tail in the measured way cats do when they're focused on something odd. If I wasn’t mistaken, she was a little miffed at being ignored.

Each time he raced past the cat, she shifted a little closer to his line of sight. Each time, focused on his prize, he paid no attention to her. Finally, throwing her dignity to the wind, she stepped nearly in front of his path. Flush with the pleasure of having caught Lizard again, he dropped it in front of her, threw his butt in the air and barked happily. Lulabelle swatted him sharply on the nose and walked away, tail and head held high. Undaunted, he picked up the toy and brought it to me and dropped it at my feet.

I picked up Lizard, scratched the dog's head and said to him, “If it’s any consolation, I think she likes you.”

The trainer is undoubtedly right that dogs understand very little English.

Still, he seemed pleased.

17 Comments:

Blogger Yvonne said...

I loved that story - it was a perfect description of cat vs. dog - very descriptive and hilarious!

5:37 PM  
Blogger leslie said...

I would love it if you could post a picture of dog!

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

me, too - a picture would help complete the picture I have in my head...

9:34 AM  
Blogger Muffy Willowbrook said...

Great story! Love how you said that cats need to hate something - gives them something to write about in their journals! Very cute.

10:16 AM  
Blogger OHN said...

I don't know Quinn...we went through the arching, puffing, hissing, swatting for a while then more and more our cat/dog combo started sharing more glances and before we knew it we would catch them snuggled up together napping. You may be headed in that direction. I even have a photo posted on my blog of the cat giving the dog a back massage--no, I have not lost my mind, it happens frequently..and on some levels it is very disturbing.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Polly was a Dalmation? Boy did I have that one pictured wrong. Maybe you should post a picture of the new dog and, to be fair, one of Lulabelle also.

Elle

9:33 AM  
Anonymous joanr16 said...

I wonder about the source of this Lizard obsession. It can't be due to the color, since dogs are supposed to be color-blind.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Skerrib said...

I'm tellin' ya. When you least expect it, yin and yang, curled up together...

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elle,

I don't think we can expect a photo. Considering the minimum threshold of paranoia required to NOT trust fans with even the first names of "Consort" or "Daughter," asking to see a true image is probably like being turned down for a thousand dollar loan then asking for ten thousand. *I'm* surprised we even got to know the names of the cat and former dalmatian! {Quinn, you KNOW I'm just having fun here, right?} ;>

-- Timothy in Seattle

12:27 PM  
Blogger Narya said...

Just so you know, I'm stealing two lines from this post. ("I'm the only poster on the inside of his locker" and "a shade of blue [which] offends even the blind." (Being a copyeditor/proofreader as well as a pastry chef, I am forced to point out that it should be "that" and not "which" in this particular instance.))

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way too many people out there that
are strange!!!! don't give us more
details..we will all imagine the
girl child,
,consort and Josie and the
dog...just keep on writing, and when can we expect the book? Not
going to be my Christmas gift this
year right?

7:58 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

hoo-ley CRAP!! i love that line "grooming her bikini area" - you made me almost do a spittake!

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

I agree..."grooming her bikini area" is priceless, and again, Polly was a Dalmatian? I too had her pictured much different.

5:12 PM  
Blogger guerrilla girl said...

Okay, did love the "grooming her bikini area," but so far, "most uniformly happy disposition ever seen outside of a cult" has to be my favorite Quinn-ism ever.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Skerrib said...

Quinn, in the interest of full disclosure, I hope it's OK if I steal your expressions randomly and at will. If I make any money on them I'll send you some, I promise...or cite you, at the very least.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Brett said...

I refuse to let our cat wear anything but a one-piece bathing suit!

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have fallen in love with your dog!

2:16 PM  

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