Reigning Cats and Dogs

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jane ponders the differences between cats and dogs as she mourns the departure of her best friend.

Submitted: February 18, 2012

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Submitted: February 18, 2012

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The barking dogs were almost more than she could take today.  She had pulled the blinds, closed the windows and turned on music to keep them from the goings on outside to little avail.  She understood that somewhere in their feeble little minds they were only protecting her and their territory (define: things they slept on, places they ate, and things they peed on), but there were some days where the incessant yammering nearly drove her straight over the edge.

Why couldn’t they be more like the cats – who for all their nighttime top-of-the-chest-and-face cuddling (who was she kidding, it wasn’t cuddling, it was a full on warmth sucking assault) were at least quiet creatures?  Granted, given the neighborhood they lived in the cats were relegated to the house, the back hallway always smelling slightly like litter and ammonia, despite her near compulsive cleaning.  But they were quiet – even the snaking through her legs and meowing they did when the food bin reached an unacceptable level was significantly less jarring than a single bark. 

Not that she liked cats better than dogs, quite to the contrary.  Dogs were all love and licks while cats tended toward aloof, even going so far to swat away unwanted attention and petting.  She supposed she was more closely akin to cats and that was why she was more prone to focus on their faults.  She peed indoors (though in a decidedly less offensive manner), she could be alternately overbearing in her neediness then swatting people away with extended claws at will.  She was fickle to a fault and would never run up to someone in dog fashion, nearly bowling them over and licking them to death.  Though she had suffered bouts of excessive exuberance, it was not in her usual nature.

There was, however, one rare being who could provoke her into such silly and useless behavior.  In her forty-seven years there had only been one friend who could turn her positively giddy without any effort at all. Katherine.  Katherine, who had recently moved 17 states away (if you counted Delaware, which Jane did), managed to penetrate all the solitary “cat-ness” and find the kinder, gentler, Jane hidden beneath.

Since Kate’s departure, Jane could do little to get out of her own way.  Her claws, never retracting, were flashed at full bore even to the poor kid bagging her groceries (he had apparently missed the day in grocery training where you learn that eggs and frozen juice should not occupy the same space).  Normally, she would hide her frustration and vent later to Katherine, who would inevitably reduce Jane to side splitting tears with her quick wit, the incident becoming a private joke they both carried to every future food-shopping trip.  But now, with the time difference and Katherine working the night shift at VA hospital, Jane was left alone with the little frustrations of the day.

The dogs never barked at Kate.  They sat beside the door, panting, anxiously awaiting her arrival.  Jane noted that they barked decidedly more since Katherine’s routine visits had ceased abruptly.  Perhaps they too were mourning the loss of such a dear friend.  Today was no exception, despite all her efforts to block out the outside world, the two canines ran from room to room, barking at the slightest noise, causing a ruckus that had her nerves frazzled at every end.

Jane’s head was splitting, and though there could be worse tasks to be obliged, she was expected at the library in twenty minutes.  She volunteered every other Saturday, mostly to get a peek at the returns before they were re-shelved and up for grabs to general public.  This way she never had to guess at when the latest release would make its way back to the library.  She downed four Advil and got the dogs ready for her departure.  She was reminded that the cats were low on food as she nearly tripped over both of them on her way out the door.  She made a mental note to stop at the store on her way home.

A little over four hours later, she climbed the three flights of stairs leading to her door, a bag of cat food in one hand and a frozen pizza in the other.  The pounding in her head had subsided and she noted that the dogs were unusually quiet.  Either the neighbors had finally poisoned them or they hadn’t heard the UPS truck across the street.

She turned the key, removed it from the lock, and pushed the door open (the latch and doorknob hadn’t worked in what she guessed had been years, well before her arrival).  Katherine sat on the couch, two happy dogs flanking her slightly overweight and disheveled frame.  The cat food bag burst open in a mess of kibble when it hit the floor, but she didn’t notice.  She took three quick strides across the living room and threw her arms effusively around her friend. 

Kate explained that while the job was a wonderful opportunity, she missed her old life and her friend more than she could have imagined.  She had found her claws extended more than retracted, and was tired of faking her smiles.  She looked up at Jane from beneath her long black lashes and asked if it would be too much of an imposition to take over the guest room while she looked for a new place.  Jane wondered if she was wiggling like a puppy on the outside as well when she assured her friend that nothing would please her more.


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