Last August I started dating a wonderful man. In December he got a puppy. Now I’m head over heels. For both, obviously. But also, a lot for the puppy.
Now, I still have two cats (fun fact: single with two cats borders crazy town, dating with two cats is somehow acceptable. Discuss the hypocrisy). Neither of whom particularly care for an intrusive, manic puppy. Tallulah hides artfully atop dressers in darkened guests rooms or in windowsills, quiet and practically invisible via her magic cat abilities. Patrick, on the other hand, wants Ella to know who is in charge and he struts about, puffing himself out large, while Ella wags her tail, so excited to have a new friend. Poor Ella. But no matter how much Patrick hisses, ears flattened and eyes narrowed, his paw drawn back to swipe, Ella still doesn’t quite get it that he’s just making his presence known. It is not an invitation to play.
Watching the animals interact (or avoid each other stealthily), I’ve noticed that my cats have very clear moods: happy (as demonstrated by Patrick getting as close to my face as possible and purring as loudly as jet engine), angry (read previous description of Patrick and Ella’s interactions), frightened (Tallulah, tail enlarged, racing as fast as she can down the hallway with Ella in pursuit) and blah. Blah is that particular cat-mood, a mixture of ennui and laziness, in which the cats find a chair or a bed to curl up on and raise their heads with a slightly bored look should I intrude. My cats have less of this than most, and enjoy taking their naps on my lap or my feet or somewhere close to my person, but they do express it now and then.
But a dog, even a puppy, has this thing were she can be sad. Ella is a German Shepard and is endlessly chatty and dramatic and she sighs, heartbroken that she can’t play with Patrick or sit on the couch with Joe and me. She furrows her eyebrows and plops down strategically so that we can not only hear the sigh, but see her as she turn her head to one side, too desolate to even make eye contact with us. Or, she’ll make eye contact. Serious eye contact. The kind that seers into your soul, letting you know how disappointed she is in you. So disappointed. Cats don’t get disappointed. Somehow, they’re above it. You, as their owner, have no power over them. They have power over you. But dogs – well, you are connected to their moods in a very intricate way. And Ella lets me know when I’ve elevated that mood or somehow brought it down (usually when I tell her that eating out of the litter box is not only unacceptable – Patrick’s winning overtime you eat his s*@! – but also unbelievably disgusting).
It’s a beautiful chaos of emotions with two cats and a puppy tormenting, intriguing and boring one another. Someone’s always moving, leaping or running or bounding, and someone’s always upset or annoyed. But then there is that wonderful moment when Patrick’s stretched out and half asleep under the television set and Tallulah has ventured as far as the border of the dining room and living room, cautious but optimistic, and Ella is asleep on the other couch and for just a 30 minutes, all is right with the world.