Monday, 16 March 2015

The joy of a new puppy. Even for an (older) cat.

It’s odd to have a puppy in the house again. Odd but pleasurable, though in the case of Misty, our cat, the pleasure took pretty well a week to be felt.

She’s called Lucy. Though it seems I’m not allowed to spell her name like that. Her original owner was Hungarian and gave her the name Luci – it’s a specialty of the Hungarian language that it makes even the simplest things more complex, or even incomprehensible: in Budapest I found it easier to read the occasional sign that appears in Russian, than the Hungarian, and I don’t speak Russian.

All I know about Russian is that “nyet” is something we should be saying more often to Putin, with little expectation that he’ll listen.

But I digress.

Luci has all the quiet reticence you’d expect of a four-month old dog. I took her for a walk at lunch today, so in the early afternoon she was blessedly quiet and asleep next to me on the sofa. At 4:00, however, she woke up, but in the sense that a previously dormant volcano wakes up. She decided that she had energy to expend.

She wasn’t actually bouncing off the walls, but she certainly did some bouncing off me: she invented an excellent game which consisted of jumping on to the sofa, getting a bit of momentum going along its length, leaping on to my chest and bouncing off back to the floor, at which point she would race round the back of table in front of the sofa, to be able to start the whole enthralling process over again.

When she got tired of bouncing off me, she decided it was Misty’s turn. Which takes me neatly to the subject of his reaction to all of this.

The first time he became aware of her presence in the house, on coming downstairs after an innocent day’s sleep on our bed last Sunday, he reacted like a NATO soldier whose vehicle has been hit by an IED. Post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t begin to cover it. He was out of the cat flap and we didn’t see him till the next day.

Over the next few days. he kept well clear of the house. He’d come in late at night when he was sure not to meet anyone, gobble some food and find himself somewhere quiet to rest. The next morning, it was another snatched meal and out once once more.

On the rare occasions we could get near him before he decamped, we’d stroke him and pet him. I even went so far as to explain to him that, though a nuisance, Luci had many fine redeeming features, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

Finally, on Friday, we caught him indoors and shut the cat flap. He was stuck. The introduction would have to take place.

The effect on Luci was electrifying. She’d seen so little of him that she’d even started barking at him, as an intruder, on the few occasions when their paths crossed – not something that helped cement a budding friendship. But now he was indoors, in her space, and staying.

She’s smart. You could almost see her saying to herself, “just a minute – I’d better revise my notions – he isn’t an intruder, he belongs here. So I don’t need to chase him out. Instead – I can play with him. Brilliant!”

Misty in his magnanimity had retreated to a chair under the dining table, where he stayed sulking behind a fold of the table cloth. So Luci took to racing round and occasionally darting in to bark at him. In a friendly way, mind. This was playing, not guarding.

Eventually, Misty had to react. A growl. A hiss. And eventually a strike to the head – but, we quickly noticed, with a velveted paw, no claws showing.

Luci was impressed, but not terrified. She fled but came back within minutes. And, funnily enough, something happened inside Misty. Her obvious interest in him must have been a little flattering, after all. 

Luci having a sniff. And Misty putting up with it

Within a while, he was sniffing her. She, naturally, returned the compliment in spades. But, as soon as he felt she was going over the top, out came the paw, and Luci would be batted away; sometimes there’d be more growling and a hiss or two, just to emphasise the point.

But Misty’s sulking was over. He’s returned to the house, to reclaim his own territory. He’s even been to sit on our laps, despite Luci’s presence on the same sofa. And what’s been most interesting has been to watch him training her: he’s never hurt her, but he’s found it easy to communicate his displeasure. Misty’s rising eight, he’s a steady fellow with habits he doesn’t intend to see overthrown. So he tells her when she’s being too boisterous.

But he’s come to like her. He’ll rub himself against her if she behaves, purring as he does it. And she, as I said, is a quick study. She knows what he won’t tolerate. It doesn’t stop her pushing the limits and getting batted for her pains, but what child was ever otherwise? When reprimanded, however, she backs off fast. Misty no longer has to prolong the chastisement.

"Play with me, Misty, play with me"
Odd, as I said, having Luci with us. But pleasurable, and all the more so now that all of us are sharing the pleasure.

Even Misty, though he’d never admit it.


heritage said...

It is nice to see them together.


David Beeson said...

Yep. It's great. And fun to watch