Dog-cat antics are always entertaining
"If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer." -- Alfred North Whitehead.
It happens each morning. Alarm goes off. Tippi-Tail, our gray girl, follows me to the bathroom. As I'm leaving, LJ, our all-black boy, is there to greet me and swat Tippi-Tail away with a commanding meow. Hop, hop, hop, he leads me happily down the hall and into the kitchen. He pauses on the floor below the coffee pot, knowing I will stop there. Then, prance, priss, pounce upon the arm of the couch. Looks back at me, "Yes, I'm coming little boy for our morning snuggle." I plop down, still rubbing sleep out of my eyes. Then, listen to the comforting sound of his "motor" running like the Little Engine Who Could.
On the floor, near my feet, sits the gray girl. Tippi's pupils are wide, seemingly taking in the situation. I sense those eyes are imploring me, "Listen, Mom, I'm sick of this bozo brother of mine. I used to be the one who sat on your lap in the morning. How come he gets to sit there now? It's not fair, I tell you. I was in this house first."
Opposite of Tippi-Tail, a golden, pudgy pile of 62.5 pounds of dog, carefully, but possessively, meanders over, and rests his head upon my knee. He lets out his best doggie-sigh and looks up at me with his light brown eyes, filled with bullion glints that glimmer, even in the dark of the morning. "I don't know why these cats think they can call dibs on you. I own all of you. This is my house, my people, my laps. They're just trying to interrupt my own personal gig I got going on here."
Another sigh passes through his mouth, and LJ lifts his head, looking into my eyes, motor still purring along.
"That dog stinks. Look at him. He smells funny, and he drools. Look how wet your knee is."
I respond, out loud to LJ, because I can read his thoughts. "As if you don't drool, big guy. Come on. You're the droolinest cat I know!"
LJ, his green eyes still locked into my own green eyes, meows quite loudly and defiantly. "I have a reason to drool. I am marking you as mine. Meanwhile, his royal fatness over there, is drooling because he knows you give him food. He's hoping you have some on you right now. But, he's so stupid, he doesn't know your morning routine like I do. No food until you're ready for school."
LJ lifts his head higher. "See, I'm a genius."
I cannot let this remark go. "Yeah, if you're such a genius, why do you keep trying to eat Rusty's food when he's not looking. Those bits are bigger than your mouth, goofball."
LJ merely sighs, lowers his head back into his curled-up body. "You cut me deep with that one, Mom. You cut me deep. You know I am merely trying to help pudge-o over there from gaining more weight. It is but a small, obviously unappreciated service I provide around here."
Meanwhile, Tippi-Tail looks over and up at Rusty. "He's so stupid. He thinks LJ is saying good things about him. Look at how his tail is swishing back and forth. He thinks we adore him. Couldn't be in a bigger state of denial. Dumb dog."
Swish, swish, swish, the sounds of my husband, John, entering the kitchen. Rusty's tail swishes faster. LJ lifts his head off my lap. Tippi-Tail's pupils get bigger. Three sets of ears listen, perch, pause as sounds of coffee filling a mug break our morning conversation. Wait for it, wait, wait, one, two, three, "Off to the races guys," yells Rusty.
Glump, glump, glump. Not quite a run, not quite a walk. John tries to approach me, but Rusty won't let him. "Pet me first. Show those two felines who's king around here. Affirm my manhood. Rub my ears. Pound my ribs. Talk to me first. Ignore your wife. She's not cute in the morning, anyway -- not like me!"
"Good grief Rusty, you're leaning on me so, I'm about to fall over from your weight," John says to Rusty as he pounds away at the dog's ribs -- thick now from the frequent thumpings John gives him on a regular basis.
Rusty's tail swishes back and forth at rapid speed. His eyes, however, betray the truth. He is looking back at the two felines. "Oh yeah kitty-catos, watch me work my magic. I'm the king, not you, me. My house, my people, my laps. I keep telling you the mantra of this place. One of these days you'll get it."
John tries to work his way across the room to give me a morning kiss. He is slowed by all three animals walking in front of him.
"Ok guys, OK, I'll sit down just give me a minute," John pleads. He stumbles as he bends down to place a kiss on my cheek, from the weight of Rusty leaning against him. "Go away, you goofy dog. Give me a second, will ya?"
John sits upon the opposite end of the couch from me. Rusty pounces to sit, quite literally, on John's feet. LJ hops up from my lap and makes measured, careful steps across the couch toward John. Tippi-Tail, seeing her opportunity, leaps onto the back of the couch and meanders, nonchalantly, across the top and sits behind John's head. "I gotta see this." Tippi smirks. "My favorite part of the morning."
Creeping, crawling, crouching, LJ eases closer to John. One paw on John's lap. Gathers his courage. Another paw. Rusty sees his chance. "Arf! Arf! Arf! Back up dude. My house, my man, my lap. Get it through that small cat brain of yours."
Tippi Tail looks over at me. "See, I told you. Love that part of the morning."
Meanwhile, LJ turns back and hip, hop, hip, prances back to my lap, as if nothing happened. I look up at Tippi. She sighs and places her head on her front paws. "I'll just hang back here some more. Besides, the dumb dog has to look up at me now. After all, there are no kings in this house, just one queen; and, that would be moi."
May the pets in your lives provide as much joy as the pets in our lives.
Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and an eighth-grade reading and writing teacher at South Point Middle School. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.