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Cat Is Where The Heart Is

There come these times of reckoning, these moments of truth.

“What’s on your mind, Boss?” says the dog named Cat.

“We’re going to have to make some different arrangements,” I say to my Catahoula friend, my trusting companion.

“Sounds serious,” says Cat. “Are you going to spit it out or run all around the barn looking for a door left open?”

“Are you sure you can handle it?” I said.

“I’m made of tough stuff, as you know—descendant of a long line of wild hog hunters—so lay it on the line. You’re going to take me over the hill and shoot me.”

“No.”

“You’re going to drop me off at the animal shelter, where I don’t have a fat chance for adoption but a pretty good chance of taking the needle that ends it all?”

“No.”

“So far, so good.”

“I’ve found a new home for you.”

“You what?”

“I’ve found a new home…”

“Whoa!”

“I hate this. But, I don’t see another choice.”

“After all we’ve been through, you just up and ship me out. Why are you doing this?”

“I have doctors’ appointments, miles to go.”

“So?”

“Dogs aren’t allowed.”

“I stay home and take care of things. You know, the family of skunks under the front porch. They’ll move in if they think they can get away with it. You know how the missus hates the smell of skunks. She deserves better. I’d find a new home for them. If there’s anything I can hardly stand it’s a litter of skunkaroos.”

“Cat.”

“Yessir?”

“Your mission in life is not to scatter the polecat population. You deserve better.”

“Have you talked this over with the missus? You know, she’s rather fond of me, and I of her.”

“She hates this turn of events even more than I do.”

“Well, I’ll just have to say this…”

“Which is?”

“It isn’t easy being a dog.”

“Cat, I understand what you’re saying. I really do. I mean, I’m really trying to understand.”

“O.K. I’m going to be big about this. I’m going to accept this new home, as you call it. I’m going to take your word for it that it’s a necessary move. But, just because I’m letting my body be moved doesn’t mean that I won’t be in your heart wherever the doggone doctors are, no matter where they are, no matter what they say.”

“Well, I want to be big about it too.”

“I expect no less.”

“I’m always going to think positive.”

“No other way to go.”

“When we’ve run the course of doctors, and we’re as cured as it’s possible to be, the missus and I want you to come back home, the place where you began as a pup no bigger than the palm of one hand.”

“Home is where the heart is—didn’t I hear you say that?”

“If I did, it wasn’t original. But you’re right. Home is where the heart is.”

“Boss?”

“Yessir.”

“You know I’m pulling for you—through every heart echo, every EKG—I’ll especially be there for the Cat scans.”

“And the bone scans?”

“You better believe it! That’s my specialty.”

“We’re friends?”

“Of course we are. You’ve made a decision, and I’m going to live with it, through it, by and for it.”

“I knew I could count on you, Cat.”

“I wouldn’t be worth much if I didn’t do everything within my power to make you feel good.”

“I’ll tell the doctors and the nurses that I have a powerful friend who’s counting on them to do right by us all.”

“You tell them, if they don’t, I’ll head in their direction and give ’em the old Catahoula stare. I’ll call upon the Great Dog Spirit and gather them together and give ’em the old what-for.”

“Cat.”

“Yessir.”

“You’re the best medicine in all the world.”

“Tell the missus I’ll be there in her heart too.”

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