By Carol Dreyer
I opened my eyes; it was Sunday – bliss! A mug of tea and a croissant in bed is the perfect slow start to the day, but then my phone beep beeped with a WhatsApp from my son: How would you feel about another dog? The message was accompanied by a photo of my kind of pooch: Terrier crossed with imp.
I already had two dogs: our precious (rescued) Scottish Terrier, Agatha, and my just as beloved mongrel, Eric. But I can’t easily say no to my son and I was equally uneasy about rejecting this new dog who was already active on my emotional horizon. So Daisy joined the menagerie of two dogs, two cats, one husband, a multitude of squirrels and occasional Hadedas.
Daisy was guaranteed Cat Friendly. I saw proof of this at the SPCA where she feigned only mild interest in two cats that were in the room. But on her first night in her new home, when the unsuspecting Pepe and Peacan strolled into the kitchen for dinner, an electric current filled the air and a weird thing happened to Agatha and Daisy: they spontaneously united in their Terrier-ness, took off at speed and with a great deal of noise pursued my alarmed kitties right off their turf.
Over the next few days my usually adorable Agatha changed personality before my eyes. Some deep-seated dog bond turned these two into a posse. As night fell, they hunted for hours, returning covered in mud with mice (dead), rats (dead) and shrews (dead). The squirrels were not safe either as Daisy has a jump that can reach seven feet. My poor cats did not stand a chance and disappeared.
I put their food in the laundry, leaving the door on a latch so that there was just enough space for them to enter. I turned an unused outside room into a haven for them, with food, treats, catnip and comfy beds. They came home in the dead of night to eat but did not linger.
After a few weeks of non-abating cat frenzy from my terrier terrorists, I was in a state about my cats’ future. This was no life for them, but what to do? Both were rescues and hardly needed the trauma of being re-homed. Fortunately, the houses around mine all have big gardens that are a cat’s paradise. I caught glimpses of them when my husband was out walking the dogs in the evening – they somehow knew it was safe to come home. I fussed over them but was also distressed as I had no idea how to solve this impasse. Like the anecdotal ostrich, I stuck my head in the sand and hoped for the best.
One morning I returned from an outing to find that a Mr Thomas had come round with a picture of Pepe on his phone to ask if we knew who the cat belonged to, as it was spending a lot of time at his home. Gracey, our housekeeper, told him it was ours but that he had a habit of coming and going (which was true). My heart sank – now I had to do something as my cats were clearly being a nuisance in someone else’s home.
Full of anxiety, I called Mr Thomas to apologise and explain but he cut me short and told me not to worry; they simply loved my cats and were just concerned that someone was missing them. They would be happy to partially adopt them. If they could have their company without the responsibility of feeding them as they occasionally went away to visit their children and grandchildren, that would be perfect.
This development beggared belief. I bought an enormous orchid embedded in moss-lined glass vase, then went round to the Thomases. They welcomed me in and took me to their bedroom where both cats were cuddled on a pink fluffy mohair blanket. They were not remotely surprised to see me; just blinked and flexed their paws.
In a world where so little feels right, this was a hotbed of happiness. Lucky cats, lucky Jimmy and Edna Thomas and lucky me. But bad dogs!
Carol is a member of a monthly writers’ group. She writes with humour and insight about daily life in her neighbourhood and the complexities of family relationships.