Travels

Beagles and felines and me, oh, my!
7/18/2018 7:25:00 PM by: Elsi

Beagles and felines and me, oh, my!

            In March of 2003 I flew to Florida to swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove. While I was there, three major events occurred: the US declared war on Iraq; Denver had a blizzard that left 30 inches of snow on the ground; and my elderly cat died.

            When I brought Lady, my beagle, home from the kennel, she searched everywhere for her friend. The two had been buddies; they would curl up together in a chair, both licking whatever bit of fur came under their tongues. Lady was devastated at being alone.

            I found a kitten at a pet store and brought the little scrap of gray home with me.

            “Lady, I’ve brought you a new kitty friend!” I exulted, setting the kitten on the floor. “We’ll call him Dolphin, because he’s dolphin-color.”

            Lady rose to her feet and delicately sniffed an ear tip.

            The kitten hissed, snarled, and swatted at her.

            Thus began an armed truce, with the cat totally in charge.

            Dolphin, my vet told me the next day, was barely five weeks old and sick. It was illegal to sell a kitten that young, and I had every right to return him to the pet store. But, whom would that help?

            He was so tiny he had to climb, paw over paw like a rock climbing wall, up the side of my bed. Then he would lie on my chest and suck my thumb while he went to sleep. He bonded to me, therefore; everyone else, he disdained.

            Lady died of old age, and I adopted another beagle. Dolphin put Sallie in her place with a few choice words and continued his plan for world domination.

            However, when my arthritic hip got so bad that I could hardly walk, I had to re-home Sallie, and Dolphin came into his own. It turned out he’d always wanted to be an only cat! He started purring occasionally. He’d curl up in my lap and nap. He was even willing to take a few steps outside the RV in a campground, wearing harness and leash. At last, he seemed to be saying, my heart’s desire—solitude!

            I had a hip replacement, and Dolphin continued to revel in being an only child. When he was 14, friends and I visited Craters of the Moon National Monument, in Idaho. What an amazing place! It’s the site of a relatively recent volcanic eruption; “relatively recent” as in, the local natives have oral history of the event. Everything is covered with lava, which absorbs the heat, of course, so it was miserable in August. My friends decided to go hiking; I decided to stay in the parking lot with Dolphin.

            We put his harness on, and I carried him to the only spot of shade around: a picnic table under a scruffy tree. I sat on the bench, and Dolphin played tiger-in-the-jungle in the sagebrush. Soon a group of 15-passenger vans pulled up and disgorged dozens of college students. They were a summer geology class, getting hands-on experience—wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to learn? Five of them trotted across the parking lot, heading for my tree.

            As they approached, I called, “Slowly and quietly, guys, please. Don’t scare my cat!”

            They slowed to a walk and settled at the picnic table with their lunches.

            An Asian boy said, “Cat? You have cat?”

            I pointed to Dolphin, crouched near my feet.

            The boy went on, “I have cat. My cat name Michael. I leave Michael with my mother. I come here to school. Michael get wild in morning. My mother get rid of Michael!”

            After a pause, he added, “I miss my cat!”

            Then, “I pat your cat?”

            I said, “You can try. He’s a bit odd … doesn’t really like people.”

            The young man crouched down and held out his hand. And Dolphin walked right up to him, accepting pats and ear rubs. I was so proud of him!

            Less than a week later, Dolphin suddenly stopped eating, stopped jumping up on the sofa, and appeared quite miserable. I took him to the vet, who drew blood. The following evening I got the call: “The blood tests show irreversible kidney failure.”

            I had Dolphin put to sleep the next morning. He had certainly gone out in a blaze of glory!

            I gave it a few weeks, then went to the Boulder Humane Society in search of a cat—preferably one who would cuddle with me and enjoy traveling in the RV. What a discouraging morning that was.

Setting a cat in my lap, the Humane Society gal would say, “This is our love-bug! He’s such a sweetie!”

I’d scratch under his chin and murmur something encouraging—and the cat would hop off my lap, walk to the far corner of the room, and sit with his back to me.

For close to two hours I was rejected by cats. Those cats lived in cages in a shelter … and they’d rather stay there than come home with me. Proof, I thought, that I was a terrible person.

I went back a week later to try again … and spent another hour being rejected by a series of cats.

Walking morosely down the hall, which was lined with cages and rooms, I felt a touch. Two little black paws had reached through the bars of a cage and grabbed my arm.

“I think this cat wants me!” I told the attendant joyfully.

In the Lord of the Rings books (and movies), Gandalf and his companions come to the gates of Durin, where the elvish word for friend, mellon, is the password to open the door. I named my new kitten, just three months old, Mellon, because she was my new friend.

What an amazing little animal she is! Every morning she demands her harness, and we walk a Boulder Open Space trail. She climbs trees, hisses at dogs, stalks voles, and generally has a wonderful time. My physical therapist says Mellon is the best thing that ever happened to me!

There’s a website out there—www.adventurecats.org. That’s my girl, a venturesome cat to the max!

My new RV is named the Venturesome Cat in her honor.


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Trust
1/1/2000  by: Elsi

Trust …
1/1/2000  by: Elsi




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