Monday, January 5, 2009

"Yonder's Henry"

So, last night Janice's co-worker returned from the Midwest (Appleton), having survived a trip to and from Wisconsin over the holidays. Rather than letting her face ten days of airport parking, we suggested she leave her car here and made sure she got to and from the airport. This seemed all the better an idea since she was travelling with Henry, her six-month-old dachshund, and it's always tricky flying with a pet (as Janice knew from having successfuly done so when she flew out here with Parker). It seemed cruel not to let Henry run around outside his carrier, given how many hours he'd have to stay in it once he left here, so we used a screen to block off the stairs, keeping all the cats on one side and giving Henry free run of the downstairs. Hastur, predictably, hid till it was all over, but Rigby and especially Feanor came and stared unblinkingly at him pretty much the whole time from the other side of the screen.

Anyway, both Henry and his master got off safely, and came back safely. But then came a hitch. It started snowing just before Janice and I left for the airport to pick them up, and by the time we left the airport for the ride home it was snowing heavily. We unburied her car from the rapidly accumulating snow and saw them off, telling her to come back if the roads were too bad. An hour later she called that she'd still not gotten as far as the interstate (only about two-three miles from our place) and asked if we could put her up for the night after all. We were glad to do so, though we got really anxious during the two hours it took her to make it back. In the meantime we made up the guest room and set up the cats' things where they and Henry could keep their distance (no sense asking for trouble).

The next day she and Janice went off to work, leaving me in charge of three cats and a dog. I didn't get nearly as much done on Monday as I'd planned, but it was interesting, after being so used to the cats' rhythms (and they to mine), to having our routine shaken up by a very lively little dog. I've never been near a dachshund before, so I don't know how typical Henry is or how anomalous. Ignoring the fact that he was smaller than any of the cats, he kept going right up to them, which utterly unnerved them -- even Feanor, who's almost three times his size and flattened himself into an enormous furry puddle at Henry's approach. Luckily all three quickly concluded that Henry was some sort of innocent or savant, and they never tried to scratch him (most cats are similarly insistent around toddlers and infants), although they concluded they most definitely didn't want to be anywhere in his vicinity. Sporadic chasing ensued, in which they put their superior speed and knowledge of the terrain to decisive advantage, eventually finding refuges from which they were reluctant to venture forth.

As for Henry, though he showed deep suspicion about me early on, as the day went on he got to following me around, wanting to spend time in the same room with me, and generally staying close. Eventually I put him under my desk, where he fell sound asleep. So that Feanor did not suspect his presence when he came to join me while I worked, as is his usual routine. His expression when, some time later, Henry jingled his collar and Feanor realized he'd been sleeping on top of a desk that had a DOG sleeping under it was, shall we say, complex.

A mid-day report I sent to Janice included this summary:

Hastur says the closet is, or shd be, a fine and private place.
Rigby says she's not coming out from under that bed, no way.
Feanor says what HAVE we done, and what do we intend to do about it?
Henry says -zzzz-


Eventually, after a few walks and a few errands (with Henry behaving himself in the cat-carrier), the work-day ended: he was reunited with his master, they rode off home together, and we set about restoring the status quo with our threesome.


Oh, and the header for this post is an inside joke, being the name of Thorne Smith's only short story. Not a v. good story (one of Smith's few mis-fires), but it seemed apropos, esp. since I'd just read about Smith a day or two before in Thurber's memoir of The New Yorker, YEARS WITH ROSS.

1 comment:

Berni Phillips Bratman said...

Very funny. We always had dachshunds when I was growing up, so this brought back memories.