The Cat They Call “The Dash”
A silly satisfied smile illuminates my face as I lay on the bed; the soft swish/thump of licorice colored fur dents my arm . . . or thigh . . . or whatever his mind-of-its-own tail can reach. Perhaps I should give Dash’s tail a name of its own too.
The name Dashiell was chosen even before Stewart came to the Animal Shelter. Stewart was going to get a cat; partially to fill a void created by an unfortunate love affair, partially because he was reminded that having a cat in a home was a good thing. Dashiell Hammett, the famous mystery writer; his name would lend dignity to the feline yet be obscure; perfect for Stewart. Dash follows Stewart around using heavy un-cat-like feet; one always knows where the cat is. A true companion, he drapes himself around his Master’s shoulders like a mink stole and watches “Book TV”. He is still; except for his question mark of a tail; like a snakes tongue, in perpetual motion. Soon Dash is joined by another kitty with lion-like coloring and ears large as a bat; Miles is his name; as in Miles Davis the trumpet genius. Yet in this cat’s case the comparison is only partially accurate; Miles is always making cat music but has no brains as evidenced by his kitten game of throwing himself down the steps like a slinky over and over. . . while Dash and Stewart watch. Dash seems to shake his head in disbelief. An easy workday routine develops amongst the bachelors . . . Stephen begins his morning oratory as the tinkle of cat claws on tile echoes through the kitchen; “Gentlemen, have a very pleasant day and don’t forget to be cats because that is your job. Dashiell, you’re the Alpha Cat; whatever you say goes. Miles, your job is to be the goof. I’ll be home later tonight . . . “
Miles may be the goof, but Dash has his own quirks. His definition of bird and Stewarts don’t jive. Stewart watches is disbelief as Dashiell walks past the open parrot cage; Vivi the Blue Headed Parrot is lunging down from her perch to get to cats-eye level. See? All the black-cat-attention is focused on the twittering finches just beyond the sliding glass door. “What things are birds and what things aren’t?” Surely, looking out on the deck, these must be birds as Dash chirps in imitation of the tiny creatures. Dashiell would never make it as an outdoor cat; his meals frightened away by the near constant vocalizations and the ever swishing tail. Finally losing interest, Dash crosses back by Vivi and barely glances at the bird within reach. “This is NOT a bird” and we are OK with that and shake our heads.
Fast forward: Stewart is married; Miles has passed on. Dash has a new daytime job; keeping me company as I heal. I’m healing from two knee replacements; and then there is the healing from the unexpected death of my Mother that has sent me into permanent orphan-hood. Sometimes, I can’t remember what joy feels like. I lie on the bed, the tears drying on my face. And then, the swish/thump of the warm cat tail against various parts of my anatomy; it lets me know that I have company. I am not alone. I smile as my Mother might have at the serendipitous pleasure of a quiet afternoon with a cat.
Have you had a special connection with a beloved pet who helped you through a rough time?