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Whupped Puppy

We pick up where we left off last month, with a new beginning and a dog named Cat.

We needed a puppy fix.

Needed a wriggly to wrap itself around our weary hearts.

Needed four promising paws to grow into dog-hood, and to dig into the domain we call home.

We’d decided we needed no German shepherd like Dirk of bygone days. No Rottweiler named Chief. No Border collie like Chip, nor Irish setter named Patricia.

We needed a different point of view, a dramatically different perspective for the challenges of a new dog day. The situation cried out for a Catahoula from Louisiana.

According to legend, the ancient European War Dog sailed the great pond with the conquistadors, crossing genetic paths with the wolf, resulting in a creature of intelligence, eyes of contrasting color, and a mottled coat as coarse as a steel brush.

We had tried to explain the matter to Pumpkin, the Australian shepherd, Kink, the orphan Chow/Lab, and Duff, the animal-shelter refugee—present members of our canine confederation—but they must have thought we were kidding.

They were not prepared for the dog named Cat.

“Pumpkin, this is Cat. Kink, this is the new kid on the block. Her name is Cat. Duff, this Cat is, as you can see, already almost as big as you are. Remember, you are not going to be any taller. You have reached the limit of your standing in the sun, little poodles being little poodles.”

Cat’s new home was to be the wooden doghouse with the roof of asphalt shingles, a special place where no other creature dared to tread. In the fullness of time, this would include any marauding coyotes.

At this puppy moment, Cat could have made a delicious bon-bon for a hungry momma or daddy coyote. They’d been sending up after-midnight screams, piercing the darkened airstreams up and down Plum Lick Creek.

“Cat, you need to be careful, don’t press your European War Dog/wolf genes too far. Maybe you should practice bravery on Kink and let it go at that. I mean, you’re just a babe in the woods, and we don’t want you to wind up being coyote candy.”

Cat must’ve understood. Her clear, light aqua blue/yellow eyes fixed on Kink like he was a moving target for practice. She made a snap of her head and fired off a round of Catahoula cur wildness. Kink pivoted and proceeded rapidly to find the other side of the paint-flaking meat house.

Cat looked around with her Catahoula stare as if to say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler…let the good times roll.”

As soon as we set Cat on the ground, she took turns chasing the other three dogs as if they were toys to be chewed.

Pumpkin, in her aging way, tolerated the menace with motherly disdain. Duff was caught off guard, and could do not much more than tighten a circle like a wagon train taking evasive action. Kink was totally out of sorts, growing up in the middle of Pumpkin’s mothering and Duff’s frenetic silliness. Now, the black-tongued orphan was being chased by a young warrior bent on proving that there were scores to be settled.

Kink was not immediately pleased.

Peeking around the corner of the aboveground cellar, he rethought his predicament. The dog named Cat was taking her work as seriously as a young bumblebee in flowering wisteria.

Kink must’ve thought it was now or never. He marched in a straight line toward Cat’s quivering backside and, before you could say Catahoula three times, Kink bit down on the puppy’s head like a vise looking for a wooden two-by-four. Adding insult to injury, Kink pierced Cat’s right ear, a little extra touch she will always remember.

Cat screamed loud enough to scare a den full of hungry coyotes. She floundered her way to the doghouse, limped inside, and dreamed of better days to come.

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