The Dispersal of Quiet


One night a few weeks ago, Burke and I were watching TV in the blissful quiet of our living room. The cat was dozing on the armrest of my chair. Modern Family playing background to our evening. And yet there was an unease tripping through my nether-bellies, alerting me to a disruption in this perfect period of quiet and content.

I looked to my left to see that taking up the entire left side of my living room was a robin egg blue doggy pen that came up to my waist. Underneath it, protecting my floor from future gallons of urine, was a green checkered picnic blanket. Bags of dog food lined my once tidy bookshelf. And I at once recognized the anxiety traveling through my body.

We were getting a dog.

I stood and was bitten by the equally anxious cat in a not-sure-what’s-up-but-me-no-like way. Then, edging the pen out of my way to the right and moving a pile of puppy pads off of my bar cart, I excavated my carafe of Irish Whiskey. And, taking a deep breath to provide space, I drank directly from it.

Life had become too quiet. I spent my mornings in the kitchen writing. The cat always sitting on my lap for a period of that time until my prose insulted or disgusted her in some way and she moved to the other chair and rued her lack of larynx and vocal range. My days involved a walk by myself in solitude, after a morning of work. Lunch and dinner were not disrupted at all by the discovery of urine or the recognition that a small animal was about to create some on my floor or couch or pillows. The cat had become content with running the household. She dallied when she wanted and screamed at us for salmon and chicken when she wanted. We gave in instantly and as a gift she would go off to sleep or sit contentedly on the couch or the chair. Too quiet. Blissful.

Enter Dog. A Shih Tzu. Small. Sort of like a dwarf if you catch her in the right moment. White with brown ears. One black eye, one pink (oddly same as the cat). No teeth yet (vet was a little freaked out by that, but they’re coming in). Maisy.

Maisy the Dog was very shy for three days. She lay on the couch and stared forlornly at cushions or the wall, morose, no doubt, at the loss of her canine family. It was sad. She sometimes whimpered. She got over that pretty quick and found that a good way to get over sadness is to bite the toes of those around her. She lunges at our faces. She has no teeth yet, so this is not the bleeding inconvenience that it might yet prove to be. Maisy, like the cat, proves to be the cutest massive pain in the ass that ever existed. She pees on the floor, tracks it around the house, and then bites you in the face. And when you want to be angry, she flops into a blanket and looks at you with these human eyes and seems to say, “you’ll miss this when I’m old.”

My experience with the cat on this front proves that this is a yes and no thing. I miss the cat’s peppy young days, the days when bleeding was almost a daily experience, when there was a battle for domination within my flat and there was no clear winner. But then she settled down and we became buddies and now she is thirteen and moves a bit slower. She can still jump like a Jedi up onto the kitchen counter, but her feet slip a little when she lands. For both our sakes, I pretend not to notice.

The B Monster (the cat) has obviously acknowledged the arrival of this new animal with a mixture of feelings, emotions, and tactics. At first, she stayed away (and we kept her away) and she smelled the door and this new brand of food. She ate the food, which is fine because the dog eats hers too. They regard each other with different languages – the dog with rambunctious friendly playfulness, the cat with exactly the opposite. There have been no major battles. After a few skirmishes, we in the flat exist in something of a détente. This is good enough for now.

Last night (early am) I heard the whines in my sleep. When I was roused I saw that it was 3:47 am and Burke was offering me anything I ever wanted in my life if I brought the dog out. I wasn’t thinking clearly, but I might have asked for another hour of sleep. Standing in the chilly, rainy, dark morning I realized that my life is no longer quiet or sedate. Writing while doing cat and dog mediation and being on urine patrol. Fielding bites from two animals.

She pees into the grass and looks up at me expecting the treat she has come to understand results from peeing in grass. I give it to her. Then another when she looks up at me after she poops. Someone shouts a drunken hoot from somewhere. I am tired, but I know she is right. I will miss this in ten years when she’s a grown and tiring dog.       

I let her race up the steps to the building and give her the last treat in my current supply. I bring her up and feed the cat a chicken heart snack that she knows she’s getting now. Trying to be fair to both animals, when I give one a treat the other gets the same. I plop the dog into her little sleeping compartment and she’s out in seconds. I then go off and read to the cat for a while.      

  1. #1 by Jake Smash on August 23, 2021 - 10:22 pm

    Fantastic, buddy. You made me, at once, fondly remember and regret getting a dog, at the same time. Good luck! Can’t wait to meet her. Maisy? I’m renaming her. Malatov. Good lock!

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