Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Russian Strathspey

Which is rather like Russian roulette, only with 5 chambers loaded... It goes something like this. "Step, together, step, (Bloody Cat) hop. Step, together, step, hop... CAT! step, together, step, dodgecat hop, step... glass-door sickening THUD! (unseen door because you were looking for the cat). Yes, they're a great help the beasties are. Manificent household defenders and diggers of the flowerbeds, and in the cats case the veg too. Although, to be fair the incidence of mouse problems out there has dropped. I was trying to think my way through a tricky bit of book (working on some sample chapters) and thus having a bath, which is where I do my best thinking. Like Queen Elizabeth I* I have a bath once a month whether I need it or not (you can't overdo these things, the neurons wear out) and someone - I think Sue, put a dozen eggs in the fridge. And our vicious South African banditry trained attack-dogs (about as 'really' as the monthly bath story. Labbies and Old English Sheepdogs are losers in the bite-burglar stakes. Lick them to death, maybe. More chance of Bat-cat thinking they were doing the Strathspey and killing them. I was lucky not to emerge dripping from the bath to find someone face down in a dozen eggs. Come to think of it, they were lucky too :-)) cheerfully slept through it.

It's been odd to have a lot of my preconceptions swept away with this move. I was for instance sure the cats would take it hard. I was very worried about them ever being re-homeable with anyone else, which was why they ended up coming. I believe if you take on a pet you do your best for its benefit - what your dog would do for you. Which is expensive and difficult, but that's the compact between us. Anyway, having been indoor-outdoor cats on a farm (and therefore not ready to adapt to town and traffic)and used to almost constantly having human-servants on call finding somewhere/someone suitable was near impossible. I thought the quarantine process might severely traumatise them, as they've never been confined and never not had people, basically 24/7. They'd never been to a cattery since they adopted us (Bat and Robin came from the Vet just short of being put down as kittens) and Duchess from the SPCA) so yes, as little, rather miserable things they had been confined. The dogs have all had short vet sojourns in Kennels and besides, dogs are faithful... Well, actually, there is no doubt that the dogs are still a little traumatised. A bit more insecure and very needy - and the position of boss-dog (vis-a-vis Roland and Puggles) has become less certain again. The cats seem to have largely forgotten the extent of their old kingdom and be happy as larry with with lots of fresh fish and squid, and plenty of mice about, familiar furniture and some new hideholes (Robin insists on having cupboards opened for her). If anything Robin is a little more confident and outgoing with strangers. The dogs - who had two and a half acres of lawns trees and a stream - find this quite small and comparitively dull. Not that they 're unhappy or don't have us around and don't get fussed, but they are still, shall we say, disturbed. I think they'll work through it, but actually our cats seem to have come through more easily. Still, loyalty is important and we've kept the faith. I don't think they would have re-homed (especially Roly), and they would be miserable as town dogs, or see-you-after-work dogs. So: give it time and lots of petting and cuddles, and maybe more space one of these days (this garden is probably half an acre and there are trees and bushes and sheds. It's just not quite Finnegan's Wake. We're being very cautious about taking them out -- it's just not wise to have them even tempted to 'break out' for a walkabout so they only go out by car - which is a mission. Anyway, we'll get there. If I live through practicing the Strathspey on the way to the 'loo.
*not Victoria, I am informed.

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