On the Fence

Feline Intruders

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Learning

Learning when it was “OK” to chase them provided a bit of a twisted pleasure.  The first of many times when a one year old cat would ‘takeover her bed’ she’d sadly slink off.  I carefully let her know that it was OK to send a thieving cat packing… with a bark or a quick chase.

Mothering instincts kicked in with Sarrah when the siblings fought, mostly protecting Isis from the bullying of Rah.  Sarrah grew into a sort of parenting referee role, barking at them and chasing Rah off, then returning to where she’d been with a look of satisfaction.  Isis, the significantly smarter of the two, picked up on all of this and bonded with Sarrah.  She even occasionally set Rah up by starting a fight, for Sarrah to break up.  It was probably also a bit of aged preference for quiet and frustration with frequent noisy youth that motivated her.

Sarrah delighted in sending the male cat, Rah for a run.  The two of them seemed to have a bit of an understanding, a few rules with their game and played it often.  Rah, around two years old, learned how fast he was and how much head start was required for a good chase without getting caught.  He then decided to play with Sarrah’s tail, to start trouble.  Most of these neener-neener games happened in the seclusion of the backyard.  The game evolved from Sarrah looking at me to see if she would be in trouble and Rah figuring out how many swipes at her tail it took to get in a good run, becoming their regular contest.

One sunny spring day Rah pushed his luck too far, attacking her sleeping tail with full claws and the chase was on.  This time he, being a little more cocky than usual, got off to a slower start and Sarrah’s quick snap got a bit of ‘butt fur’, much to the surprise of all!  After the chase, she returned with a smug look of satisfaction, spit out the chunk of black fur and resumed her position on her bed in the sun with the trophy.  Rah returned after a few moments and all was back to ‘normal’.  Sarrah smiled, I laughed and Rah just brushed it off, playing it cool.  It was good to witness Sarrah winning one of these challenges; after all only Rah’s pride was hurt, a little.

The addition of the kittens to our family was another gift.  Sarrah inadvertently absorbed some of the youthful energy that showed up with them.  Thankfully the feline chaos that spiced our daily life actually benefitted all of us, especially my tiring friend.

Jealousy

Eventually Sarrah was a little dismayed with having to tolerate them when it became apparent that they were not leaving.  It became her turn to learn to share space and time, with other animals.  If you think that animals do not have feelings and emotions, like Jealousy, you have missed something.  As the cute kittens grew into crazy brave young cats, they freely terrorized the backyard at home and consumed the atmosphere in the beach house.  Sarrah would sulk, sigh, and lay on her bed pouting when I would spend time with a kitten instead of her, (despite the fact that I always spent plenty of time with her first and after to avoid any issues); she simply wanted all of my time.

Luckily she learned to like them, as much as an older dog can adjust to pesky kittens who have invaded the home front.

Intruders

Like most dogs, Sarrah had a way with cats.  I don’t think she would actually hurt one, but these furry creatures intrigued her and she delighted in seeing them run.

Tux and Simon never wanted anything to do with Sarrah.  Tux simply disappeared when Sarrah was outside; Simon on the other hand would frequently swipe at her through gaps in the fence and occasionally sit on top of it, to taunt her.  They never bonded and never shared the same space at the same time.  Though they did share the same house and people, they never really lived together.  After they had gone, Sarrah settled into the role as our only pet.

Sarrah’s favorite trick for dealing with cats that crossed paths with her while we were out walking was a quick lunge and two to three quick pepper steps, which usually sent any cat running…. Great fun!  She always had a wide smile when watching a cat in flight, and in turn a puzzled look for the rare one tough enough to stay, crouch and Hiss.  Through the eyes of a cat, Sarrah was incorrigible.

When Sarrah was about ten years old a coworker of Nissa’s was adopted by a stray cat, and in turn ended up with a batch of genetic soup kittens, born May Twenty Eighth, Two Thousand Eight.  After some discussion we adopted two of these at least fifty percent feral, one third crazy, fearless kittens; a black male and a grey female each with faint ghost tiger stripes and a few random white chest spots.  Nissa named them after the Egyptian Gods, Rah and Isis.  Sarrah was beyond excited and very curious when these little ‘hair balls’ came home, fortunately for them being of wild origin gave them inherent coping skills for excessive sniffing and occasional chasing.  Initially Sarrah was amazed with the clumsy little kittens.  She acted like she had never seen anything like them before.  Sarrah displayed an intense curiosity and fixated on them, under closely guarded supervision.  She made no seriously aggressive moves toward the kittens, just a constant intense observation of these mini versions of the enemy.

Sarrah had an insatiable desire to sniff them; it seemed that she drew energy from their essence of new life.

The Holiday Season

As the year winds down, festivities compress what time remains.  The usual events, rituals and traditions combine to make the last couple of months blur into a final season.  I am grateful that Sarrah was able to be here for ‘The Holiday Season’, one more time.

Sarrah was part of my increasingly favored holiday and our recent annual tradition of gathering at The Beach House for a few days around Thanksgiving joining; us, my parents Esther and Stan, Nissa’s mom Gail, the cats and our beach neighbor friends Mike, Lori and Jessica for another extended weekend of giving Thanks.  We individually gather and stay there for a few days, making the holiday more about being with family and friends than just an over planned annual meal.  It seems the added time in this place allows the traditional stress to dissolve and the true flavor of giving thanks takes over.  Sarrah was part of it all; inhaling all the smells of the cooking feast, scoring human food snacks, walking with her toes in the sand, barking orders at cats, collecting affectionate pats from all and constantly reminded me to be thankful.  This year the quiet moments were a bit heavier and at times a little saddening, but moments like these helped me remember and define others.

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