Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Family

One night, upon arrival home, I saw the scene I had imagined when Moose first came to the house: The dog and the cat curled up on the couch. My heart did a little flutter. I was awash in a golden aura of domestic tranquility.

It lasted about two seconds. That’s how long it took me to fully absorb all the details of the scene – a rich tapestry of clues akin to a CSI episode crime scene. The couch and loveseat, usually arranged with a dozen toss pillows each, looked a little different. The loveseat was bereft of its pillows. Ditto for the couch. The hardwood floor was now carpeted in pillows. It looked like the aftermath of a magnificent and prolonged pillow fight. There was one lone pillow on the couch, upon which Moose sat, lodged as far back into the corner as he could get. He cast me a wistful, pleading look – as if he was thinking, “Help. Please. Hurry.”

Merriwether, meanwhile, was stretched out in front of Moose, as calm and relaxed as if some cool kitten was on her way over to deliver him a nice bowl of lactose-free milk and some catnip. At my entrance, the cat stretched, slinked off the couch and headed for the kitchen, where he parked himself on the floor staring at the refrigerator door. He launching into the incessant meowing that ultimately ends in a bowl of milk,  just to shut him up. The dog heaved a sigh and relaxed in his corner. It reminded me of junior high, when it was possible to intimidate someone just by standing near them. And the huge wave of relief when they finally walked away. Or was that just me?

I wondered how much time Moose had served in his incarceration, and how many more sentences were in his future.

It’s been nearly a year now, Moose and Merriwether are still dancing around each other, but the glacial caps seem to finally be melting. Slowly. The cat was initially so peeved at Moose’s arrival he disappeared for a few months. Like the prodigal son he returned, scarred, thinner, worse for the wear and tear he had endured where ever it was he had gone. And a bit less haughty. Less hostile towards Moose. More humble.

Sure, there are the subtle bullying tactics like the couch entrapment and the cat dropping his tail into the dog’s water bowl, but at least there has been no more hissing and swiping of the lethal claws (of which I am aware). When they meet at the threshold to the front door, they pass each other in silence en route to their respective business. When I’m home, they coexist peacefully on the couch, one on each side of me, napping, snoring, and at ease.

It’s not yet all cotton candy and rainbows. Moose still avoids passing through a room occupied by the cat whenever possible, and they still each keep a wary eye on each other. But I think they are finally warming up to the idea that we are all here to stay.

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