Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas past, present, future

Lap, lap, lap …

"The cat is drinking out of the tree water again," shouts Ittybit in mock exasperation.

"CAT! Dinking! War! Gan," yells her tiny echo.

It is kitty’s first Christmas, and because of this each day when I get home I take the low-hung ornaments from the floor and position them higher on our evergreen.

"Trees like to share," I say, thanking a higher power for the fact that I haven’t come home to find the Frasier fir upended, ornaments smashed and littered like landmines in the family room.

It is enough work to wrestle the thing into its stand and a straight position. Having to secure it in place with fishing line and duct tape would just dampen the joy of the season.

"Lap, lap, lap."

Our dear, old, incontinent dog, who has been selectively feigning deafness for the past 15 years, perks up.

She loves the cat.

I shouldn’t tell you this, because it goes against the natural order of her sensibilities as a life-long dog’s dog, but she REALLY loves the cat.

She would knock the kids over to protect the little black feline.

She also loves cat toys and cat food and all manner of cat antics that are surprisingly fun to watch.

Ok … watching the cat all hunkered down in front of the cabinet of the kitchen sink waiting for mice to emerge is similar to watching paint dry, but the other things … the misjudging distances as the feline flies across the room, from one ledge and *almost* to another, makes the dog giggle just a tiny bit. I can tell.

It’s also a hoot when the furry little beast ping-pongs off the window in a failed attempt to catch a bird in the yard.

Not that I’m laughing.

It’s hard to laugh when I look at the old girl these days.

Not long after we decorated the tree, her hind legs gave up their efforts to make the nightly trek upstairs.

Her incessant barking, however, let us know she was hostile and that she considered these appendages traitors. I know she’s feeling her age, and that this very well may be her last Christmas with us.

My eyes sting just typing that out.

This is a dog, you see, that exemplifies my life. She wasn’t the cutest in the litter. She wasn’t particularly friendly or social. But she was sensitive and loyal. And smart.

She could open doors, steal food without jingling her collar, she always figured things out.

She never really seemed like a dog so much as an annoying little brother who had diabolical plans for your best toys … And who always made it up to you.

"Lap, lap, lap."

In a flash, the dog is on her feet and chasing the cat from under the tree. Around the dining table they go. The dog as fast as she can, the cat slower than usual. Soon the dog has the cat pinned — neck to floor — in the living room. An imaginary referee counts to 10, and she releases the now soggy cat.

There’s no barking, no hissing, no hard feelings.

In a few minutes, when I look at the tree, the two of them are laying underneath it, looking up.

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