The Canine Angel
edited: Saturday, October 26, 2002
By Cathy J Dee
Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2002
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About my dogs' relationship with the Cat door
Mid year 2001, we moved from the West coast (Taranaki) to the East Coast (Central Hawke’s Bay). Temporarily we moved to an old farmhouse on a huge farm, which we shared with a woman and her elderly, rather grumpy Doberman.
At first the Doberman was none too happy about having to share her abode with 3 cats and an obnoxious young dog, however it did not take long for the ‘Partly Charm’ to work its magic and within a very short time, the two of them were inseparable, Partly had the old Dowager wrapped around his paw.
She took on a new lease of life as they played games together and she even allowed him to share her bed!
The farm life was great for all except poor Yertle who became increasingly paranoid about everything. Yertle was a cat who believed the sky was about to fall on his head at any minute and therefore it was probably best if he stayed under my bed.
Grommit and Sticky Mooster, however thrived and joined Partly and I every day before and after work on our expeditions around the farm. From a distance, it would have looked as though two red squirrels were accompanying me – as they bounced over the grass and up trees, fluffed up tails held high over their backs as they dashed out at Partly and explored their new surrounds.
If at any time they got a fright, as happened when they chanced upon a herd of young horses, they would yell and Partly would come flying across the paddock , barking and bouncing in an attempt to scare the ‘enemy' away.
We could not stay long in this house however, as I was increasingly concerned about Yertle, who was by now so paranoid, he would only creep out from under the bed to eat his meals and to relieve himself.
I managed to find a lovely little house with a huge back yard on a quiet street and on the wettest day Hawke’s Bay had had in about a thousand years, we all transferred across. Now that it was just ‘the family’ Yertle instantly settled in and took over once more as his self-appointed role as head of the house. Partly, meanwhile, did not mind where he was as long as I was there with him.
At that stage I was working away from home all day so I decided I needed to
A) get the yard fenced and
B) get a cat door for the pests.
We ran a high wire fence around the backyard and moved Partly’s very roomy and comfortable ‘penthouse suite’ into it. Wanting to make sure Partly was happy at home without me, I bought him a range of doggy toys and treats for him to amuse himself with during the day. Every morning I would fondly kiss him good-bye and leave with a vision of a miserable looking dog sitting huddled on the back door step, glaring at me accusingly. I would carry the guilt with me throughout the day so much so that I took to coming home at lunchtime, to spend it with him.
One day I popped home early on my way to an appointment up the road. I was mortified to find that there was no sign of Partly in the back yard.
I stood around calling him and when he still did not turn up, convinced he had been Dognapped, I ran next door, almost in tears to ask the neighbour if she had heard or seen anything.
‘Oh yes’, she said, ‘he was here about 10 minutes ago, he really is a dear young dog, we all love him you know, I suspect he’ll be visiting Margaret down the back by now’. I stared, dully at her, taking this in as she continued – ‘every day, about half an hour after you leave for work, he pops across, taps on my door, ever so softly, comes in and keeps me company for a while and then goes off to visit the other neighbours’. “He is always so polite”, she said, which had me seriously doubting this was my dog she was talking about. “He does the rounds again after lunch”, she went on, “but he always makes sure he is in his backyard by the time you get home”.
As we talked, I was vaguely aware of a black, tan and white streak in the corner of my eye, flying over the newly erected dog proof fence in my back yard. I thanked my neighbour and excused myself to race back home.
I entered the house and slowly opened the door to the back yard. No sign of Partly. I called him and there he was, a vision of sweetness, emerging, stretching and yawning from the door of his suite, like he’d been there all morning and how come I hadn’t noticed.
The next day I left home after passing on strict instructions to Partly that if he dared put so much as a paw out of the back yard, I’d have his guts for garters.
I couldn’t make it home for lunch so it was after 5pm before I drove up the road to the house, admiring the beautiful light, and the changing tree colours and as I got closer to home, my dog, sitting on the footpath outside the house waiting for me.
I drove up and as I did I was aware of what appeared to be a halo around his head. The sunlight filtered softly through it enhancing the vision I had of a large, hairy angel.
It wasn’t until I got closer still that I realised that the ‘halo’, was in fact, the cat door. Firmly lodged around Partlys neck as he sat there, busting to tell me all about what the cats had done and show me the broken glass. ‘Of course, I tried to stop them’, he was saying with his beautiful black rimmed eyes trained on me. He seemed to be oblivious to the overwhelming piece of evidence hanging around his neck.
The cats sat smugly on the porch, waiting for my reaction.
Birds were singing in the trees, an elderly couple walked past, cheerily waving out, and I, was speechless.