Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Cat and Dog (09/04/14)
TITLE: Ever Open door
By Pauline Carruthers
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He was a two-faced, shameless, bundle of brown fur, with appealing golden eyes and a tail that thumped with excitement. His energy was akin to an electrical storm, yet in sleep, a picture of canine innocence. When our parents were around he romped playfully, the essence of dog perfection and obedience. Yet left alone with his adoring young owners, his transformation into unruly disobedience occurred with unnerving rapidity. It was hard to understand why his need for shredding newspapers, dashing on and off furniture, clawing cushions to shreds or knocking mum’s delicate ornaments off the sideboard, was only attractive to him when our parents were out. When dad was working in the garden Rex would trot beside him, content with his company, happy to lollop playfully around mum when she put out his food. Yet the garden became his territory when left alone with us. My sister’s attempts to soothe him when his barking upset the chickens fell on deaf ears; and more than once I was caught trying to re-plant lettuces and carrots. But we adored him. The day he went missing was my first taste of heartbreak. Despite scouring the lanes and fields around our home for weeks on end, we never saw him again.
I was married with children of my own when Ming strode regally and uninvited through our back door. After a purposeful reconnaissance of our home he arched his sleek back and moved in. He was a beautiful, all black, part Siamese cat, with eyes as blue as a tropical ocean. Ming was a master of aloofness. When displeased he would sit in front of the television with his back to me, ignoring any attempts at reconciliation. When visitors called he would perch on top of a door where he could observe without disturbance, or clamber up the lounge curtains and hang on, just for sheer bravado. Sometimes he would deliberately and slowly slide down, allowing his claws to scrape all the way to the bottom. Occasionally he would creep around and gently nip an exposed ankle. He graced us with his fascinating presence for six years, before moving in with our friends just around the corner. Love and loyalty losing out to fresh ham and beef from their small grocery store.
When I first met Chang he was four weeks old. A tiny Irish Setter puppy with a serious dose of gastro enteritis. He rubbed along with Ming, never quite getting the upper hand with the cat whose stare could freeze hot coals. Though we were putty in his paws. He taught me new skills; long distance running, when his luxurious plumed tail was a mere feather in the distance; patience when my call to heel seemed like a whisper in the wind. On the lead he dragged me through our leisurely walks and once left me in embarrassed silence at his unsuccessful attempts to instigate a response from a well trained police dog. His misdemeanours were numerous, but his love was greater, covering even his worst sins. He quickly learned the art of opening the fridge door and spreading the contents over the kitchen floor. Ming loved him for this reason only - he gave access to things not usually allowed. Frustration, fun and exasperation grace my memories, yet after we lost him I vowed he would be our last pet.
“This is Stella. If she goes I go!”
Our son stood at the bottom of the stairs, cardboard box at his feet. Peering in I almost missed the scrap of flea-ridden ginger fur against an enormous slice of ham. Appealing blue eyes immediately captured my heart and I knew she would be staying.
Stella lived life to the full, enjoying the pampered existence of an aristocrat. She survived two road accidents, quickly learning never to set paw out of the garden if survival was of primary importance. She divided her loyalties equally amongst us, gracing us with her presence on our beds on a rota basis. Her nature was gentle and she loved her family as much as we loved her. Her playful antics were a rich source of fun and she brought a smile to every face. Postmen, delivery drivers and anyone who came to our door was greeted like a long lost friend, falling under her spell. Stella died almost a week ago and grief and glorious memories mingle as we come to terms with her loss. I miss her.
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