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Do not Print That!

By Terry Carlson


Our cat likes to be petted on the head like a dog. He lays his ears back sits still while I stroke back the top of his head. Like a dog. Sometimes he gives a rapid "meow-meow," and it sounds just like "bow-wow." I think he'd rather be a dog.
Actually, the cat has a pretty well-developed "meow" vocabulary. He has that little squeaky meow when he asks permission to jump up on my lap. He has a stunted meow that sounds like he's saying "Nick." My daughter named him Mittens because he's predominantly a black cat with four white feet, but almost everyone calls him Kitty. I call him Nick. I figure if he wants to be called Nick, it's his right.
Years ago, my daughter conned me into getting the kitten. It had been 40 years since I had a cat and during that time developed a comfortably mild allergy to cats. But when she was yet a little girl, she pointed out an ad in the newspaper that read: "FREE KITTENS ­ two orange and one black-and-white."
I didn't want a cat, but her six older brothers had gotten a couple dogs, so I relented ... sort of. I thought I'd be clever, hoping to delay the inevitable and, if it worked, her longing for a cat would eventually fade away. Or so I thought.
I used a bit of psychology. I said, "Okay, I'll call on the ad, but only for the black-and-white one."
I figured the black-and-white kitten would have been the first one gone because people tend to choose the one most unique. The odds were slightly tilted in my favor. She agreed.
But when I called, the man that answered said yes, the black-and-white kitten was still there-in fact,-all three kittens were still there. It was a stacked deck, and unwittingly, my daughter had successfully outsmarted her Dad.
We're now down to one dog. The one that was a year younger than the older dog, Hildegarde, died in August. The older dog, Ginger, is a retriever mix, and retrievers have an average lifespan of eleven years. Ginger is 13. For the last two years I've wondered if she'll see another Christmas, but here she is. She's quite arthritic and her appetite (for dog food, at least) is not what it was. To sum it up, Hildy ate to live-but Ginger lives to eat.
In her younger days, Ginger was boss of the backyard. Whenever deer ventured into it, she'd bark and give chase until they were back in the woods where they belong. And when she barked at deer (or any other critter), it wasn't her usual bark. it was'her "deep voice" bark, which I assume she did to make herself seem even bigger than she really is.
When my daughter and I first brought Mittens the Kitten home, and after he exhausted himself, he went over to Ginger, who was blissfully sleeping by the side of my recliner, and snuggled up next to her to keep warm. Ginger let out a growl, as if to say, "Beat it kid or I'll bite your ugly face."
Ginger is very territorial. She doesn't like visitors of any kind, and'only'allows the grandkids (ages one and three) to crawl over her for just a short while before letting out a warning growl.
She's never bitten anyone. I guess you could say she's all bark and no bite. Still, we prudently peel the grandkids off of the grumpy dog.
Why doesn't Ginger defend herself?'Answer: Because she's a coward.
One time we came back from a Little League game in Woori Township ("It Takes a Woori Township to Sing a Woori Song"). It was late in the day and nearing dusk, there were clouds of mosquitos (Mosquitos: "DEET? Hah! We eat DEET for breakfast."). I rarely wear a hat, but wore one that afternoon. In fact, I wanted to be wrapped up like a mummy.
When we came in the door, Ginger didn't recognize me with my hat on, so she let out a bark and turned tail to run deep into the house, leaving a very foul odor in her wake. On that day, we learned exactly what kind of watchdog she'd be.
Do you ever wonder what your pets are thinking? Our dog and cat watch us constantly. Especially the cat.
I believe pets marvel at what humans do. After all, besides being good companions, it has also been said that dogs and cats regard us as gods. But I'm certain they have many questions they'd like to ask if they could.
Questions like: How do they walk so easily on their back feet? Look at how they manipulate the toes on their front paws to pick up utensils to bring food to their mouths-don't they know it's quicker and easier to eat right out of the bowl? What makes them assume we understand English?
The cat, replete with a superiority attitude, thinks of us as clumsy, lumbering fools. It would be so easy to murder them, he thinks, I don't need them-I'm independent. And why do they keep that stupid dog around ... the uncivilized cur! A useless waste of space and air! Uh-oh, wait: I can see the bottom of my food bowl. The "food" surrounding that little opening is an illusion. Fact is, I am out of food! I'm gonna starve!
"Meow-meow! MEOW!! MEEEOOOW!!"


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