So my lovely wife Sandi and I often take walks at night, which causes a problem when we’ve let the cats out. Caesar (our smaller Holstein-cow fraidy cat) and Nero (our larger black-with-white-blaze surly cat) like going O-U-T-S-I-D-E, but if we’re walking they tend to follow us, which is dangerous in a neighborhood full of dogs.
SO one night this week we let the cats out the back door, hoping that the normal “beg to be let out back, prowl the back yard, walk the fence, prowl the front yard, beg to be let in front, beg for some C-A-N food, beg to be let out back, repeat” cycle would spin in our favor. No such luck: we were no more than two houses down when Nero leapt out of a bush and began stalking us.
He’s done it before, and we’ve tried to let him follow us before, only to have to pick him up and carry him back when a dog owner turned a corner ahead of us. But we decided to chance it, taking a shortcut that curved round the block back to our house rather than our long route, hoping that at the end of the walk he would want some I-N-S-I-D-E.
Hoping to keep him close, we called Nero, and surprisingly, he came, speeding up to walk with us, sometimes booking it forward to weave between our feet, some times hanging back and playing it cool, never more than twenty feet behind. We made it to the end of the street, then the charming walkway, and then the back side of the street, all with no problems, even when we passed houses that we knew housed dogs.
And then we turned the corner onto our cross street, and saw, crossing right at the intersection leading to our home, a woman with a huge Great Dane. It came to her ribs, head as large as Nero, and she walked right up to the bushes in front of our neighbor’s house to let him sniff.
Hoping to pick him up, we called Nero, and thankfully, he stopped, allowing Sandi to pick him up while I calmed him. After a moment I crossed the street to get a better angle, and saw that the lady had taken the Great Dane up our street and out of view. Relieved, we put Nero down and hoped to hurry back to our home, and he booked forward as well, no doubt thinking the same thing.
Then the Great Dane lady returned, having immediately doubled back.
Hoping to avert catastrophe, we told Nero to stop, as if he could understand us, and shockingly, HE DID. We walked up next to him, and he just stood there, looking down the street as the Great Dane looked back at him, never moving while Dane’s owner looked at us in acknowledgement and took her charge down the cross street, away from us and out of view with finality.
So we resumed. Nero followed us, weaving through our feet as we turned the same corner where the Great Dane had just stood. We were both shocked. I was raised to believe that you could never herd cats, and yet we had; Sandi, with far more cat experience, pointed out we would have been lucky to get that behavior from a trained dog, much less a new adoptive cat with a rough past, who strolled right up to our front door and darted in quickly without letting his brother out, allowing us to resume our walk.
And that made me think: despite his difficult past and surly demeanor, Nero IS a really good cat, calm and agreeable, easy to pick up, even calm at the vet. Caesar, while skittish, is similarly easy to deal with. Frankly, I don’t know how we lucked out. But we did.
Thanks again, God!